By Tiffany Young
"Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is an inspirational and true account of how Mortenson went from climbing the tallest mountains to falling in love with a culture and passionately wanting to help that culture.
By going back to the U.S. after promising Korphe, a village in Pakistan, that he would return and build the local children a school, Mortenson finds himself working extra shifts and sleeping in his car to save money to keep his promise. After giving presentations all over looking for funding, an unlikely source ends up being his prime benefactor in the years to come.
When Mortenson goes back to build the school he finds himself agreeing (sometimes by force) to help other communities get schools. It takes quite a while for Mortenson to build Korphe's school because of various delays, but the village becomes his family even as begins making a family back home—meeting his wife and having a baby during this tumultuous time in his life. Not only does the book describe Mortenson's ambitious goals of building schools that includes teaching to girls in the Middle East, but also tells a story of how someone immerses themselves into a culture in order to understand them and help them in the way that is needed—not always in the way he would like—efficiently.
The Pakistan culture shows that the American way is not always the way to get results—in some parts of the world, sitting down and having three cups of tea must come before making decisions, starting projects and diving in—regardless of how antsy you are to get your project underway.
I think readers will find this book inspirational in more ways than one.
There is also a young reader's edition for children eight years old and older.