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Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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When I started Three Cups of Tea, I had not heard of Greg Mortenson. I assumed he was some rich guy who had the resources to do anything he wanted. Then I learned Mortenson had worked hard to get through college and had done everything he could to spend time with his sister, Christa, to give her a better life prior to her death.

Mortenson's missionary parents were born in Minnesota, but he was raised in Tanzania with his siblings because they were building a school at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. While there, Christa contracted acute meningitis, from which she never fully recovered, and she became epileptic. On her twenty-third birthday their mother was taking her to the “Field of Dreams” cornfield, because that was her favorite movie, but en route Christa died of a massive seizure.

In remembrance of his sister, Mortenson attempted to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain, located in Pakistan's Karakoram Mountains, to leave Christa's necklace at the summit. Fortunately for many of the villagers of Central Asia, he lost his way not once but twice, which took him on a path that would change tens of thousands of lives.

The villagers offered luxuries to Mortenson that they themselves could not afford in their daily lives. Mortenson was amazed by how these children tried to teach themselves using a stick in the dirt, because their parents couldn't ­afford the dollar-a-day teacher salary. Their fierce determination reminded him of Christa, and he promised to build them a school.

After returning home, Mortenson began writing letters on a rented typewriter asking for money to build a school in Korphe. One day the copy shop he frequented was closed, so he went to another and it turned out the owner was from Pakistan. He taught Mortenson to use a computer, which made it much faster to complete the 580 letters. Unfortunately, the replies were not promising.

Mortenson's luck changed when a doctor he worked with gave him Jean Hoerni's number. Hoerni was an older man who had been a mountain climber. He gave Mortenson $12,000 to build the first school, then donated money to his Central Asia Institute.

Mortenson sold all his possessions and made the long trip back to Korphe. He even slept in his car so as not to waste any money he could use to build the school. The villagers were thrilled to see “Dr. Greg,” as they called him, because he had a first-aid kit and gave them badly needed medical attention. Although he told them he was only a nurse, they persisted in calling him Dr. Greg. He learned that many climbers had promised to return and help, but he was the first who had ­actually done it.

Mortenson's determination to help the people of Central Asia is remarkable, especially after he was held hostage by the Taliban. Some of these ­Taliban fighters have since ­rejected violence and now work with him to build schools for the female population they once oppressed. Mortenson ­realizes that the best way to fight terrorism is by educating those who would otherwise be recruited by the Taliban.

The one school Mortenson vowed to build has become 55 schools. If anyone ever deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize, it's Dr. Greg. Please go to www.threecupsoftea.com for information on purchasing this book (proceeds go to the schools) or to make a donation to advance education in Central Asia.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 9 comments. Post your own!

Lilies said...
Aug. 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm:
Good review. You revealed a lot of the plot, but you did it in a way that just made readers even more curious about the book! well done.
 
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DestineeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 2:33 am:
I'm reading this right now and it's amazing. Even if sometimes the writing seems to 'exotic' for me, the content is absolutely brilliant. Kudos to him!
 
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Maddyandsnoopy said...
Oct. 23, 2010 at 8:33 pm:
I am about 130 pages in right now and absolutely love it!
 
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JKaz said...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm:
Recently, I read this book in my Challenge (basically extra hard English) class and the book, at first, was heartwarming and curious, but then . . . annoying! Greg Mortenson was so. . . so brought up as a "hero" character that it was sickening. The elevated his character far too much! It was kind of stereotypical that he would be such a perfectionist and all of that jazz. If you write a book, make the character have depth and not be some cookie-cutter hero type.
 
ilove2read124 replied...
Jul. 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm :
i know!i thought so too!my familys from pakistan, so i thought it would be cool to see it through another persons eyes, let alone a white, so i read it.i got immensly bored.i was like, why am i reading this?its totally saying hes an amazing man, when really, he isnt even that spectacular.i was like, why am i reading this?so i stopped, i got bored.i totally agree with you.
 
DestineeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 2:32 am :
How is he not spectacular? He's making schools with little-to-no resources in a harsh environment, within a culture that he's not even from. 
 
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Myrah This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 9, 2009 at 1:38 am:
Ugh... my entire school had to read this book. It's a heart-warming story and everything, but it would have been better off as a documentary rather than a book. The way the two authors wrote together did not work out at all, and some spots were horribly awkward. Still, a very informative review, though perhaps you shouldn't have summarized so much.
 
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Jo Reader said...
Feb. 13, 2009 at 7:54 pm:
I disagree with Me000's comment about Colin's review. I recently bought Three Cups of Tea (and it's companion children's book) but I haven't read it yet. Colin's comments have encouraged me to spend the upcoming weekend with Three Cups of Tea. Thanks, Colin!
 
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Me000 said...
Jan. 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm:
This is too long and gives too much info on the plot.
 
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