Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 5/89
Newsletter for January 2009
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Three Cups of Tea
An Inspiring, Analytical and Educational Review by Najmul-Nissa Fatima Naqvi, New Jersey
Achieving this goal was not easy for him.
He went through a lot, but he did not give up. He knew that the
best way to eradicate extremism and terrorism was to educate the
children living in the hub of extremist organization, Al- Qaida.
Being a Pakistani American, I found Mortenson's narrative
very close to my heart. The description given is so touching and
real that I felt as if I was with Mortenson along this odyssey.
The book provides a vivid depiction of the very diverse culture
Before I would further explain my thoughts about this book, I
deem it to be very important to introduce the main character.
Both the Author and the main character of this book, Greg
Mortenson was born in
From childhood, Greg Mortenson was exposed to a different culture than his own, and this may be the reason why he did not have any difficulty in adapting to a new culture, in a most remote area in
The question is, how educating girls can help uplift the
society? The small girls of today are the mother of tomorrow. An
educated mother would raise her child instilling the values that
can make them good citizens. Good mothers cannot be produced
without educating the girls, and Greg was very well aware of
this fact. Greg was successful in acclimating himself in the
Pakistani culture due to his previous intercultural integration
while living in
The culture Greg Mortenson had experienced in
Language was another hurdle in Greg’s way, because
From clothes to buying material for his school, Mortenson had a
local person along his side. Shopping experiences for Greg in
Hospitality is a common practice and hall mark of Pakistani culture. This book is a very good source of first hand information about a culture which is either little known, or misperceived. Greg Mortenson was considered a guest, which holds a very high place in Pakistani culture. Even a very poor person would not let a guest leave without entertaining him with whatever he would have. Pakistani culture is based on collectivism, as opposed to western ideology of individualism; sometimes it only takes three cups of tea for a person to become part of your family. The same stranger is loved and cared for if he were part of the town for a long period of time. No one would hesitate to protect him even at the cost of their own life.
Greg Mortenson became part of Hajji Ali’s family by the end of a “third cup of tea” and from then on he was the “adopted American” son who Hajji Ali advised and loved like his own son, Tawha. Greg found the family lifestyle to be very invigorating. Gathered on the roof tops, every evening where they would have their dinner. As Mortenson has said very beautifully, “Despite all that they lacked, Balti still held the key to a kind of unaccomplished happiness that was disappearing in the developing world as fast as old growth forests.” The roof top meeting allowed people to talk and further strengthen their relationship; this value is becoming rare in more developed countries where everyone in the family is confined to their own lives and needs. Taking this disintegrating value on a larger scale, it can be seen that, the lack of integration between countries is a factor that contribute to misunderstandings.
The book also gives out knowledge about the different schools of thought in the faith of Islam. They are considered “schools of thought” not sects, because Islam does not believe in sectarianism. These schools of thoughts, such as Shia and Sunni, all believe in the common, fundamental Islam a monotheist religion. Greg Mortenson was exposed to these schools of thoughts at different times during his visit. For example, from his tailor, learned how the pray the Suuni way, but had to fix the minor difference while being present in a Shia mosque. It was not difficult for Mortenson to understand the different beliefs because Christianity also appears in many forms that overall have the same basic beliefs.
Greg Mortenson built a very good relationship with the people. This relationship grew stronger after the 9/11 tragedy, where people protected Greg Mortenson in every possible way, knowing how vulnerable it would be for an American to be present in a Muslim country. This explains how relationships between cultures can go above and beyond the manipulations of world politics. The people of khope village protected a friend who risked his life for them. Mortenson sacrificed living away from his wife and children in order to provide the villagers the basic needs of life, and I think this kind of relationship cannot be confined to borders. People manipulate religion for their personal interest. These sorts of people are found in every culture and religion, and are not the true representatives of the faith.
Greg Mortenson, after being a part of the Muslim culture, realized how things seemed to be one way from a distance like a mirage, but when you came closer, you found reality. A speech given by a Muslim clerk during the 9/11 attacks was so overwhelming that it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. This speech was not in any way demeaning to Americans or in favor of terrorists. In his speech he clearly called this act of terrorism against the teachings of Islam. His speech was so overwhelming that it brought tears into the eyes of people. Greg Mortenson says, “ I wish that some ill-informed Americans who think Muslim is just another way of saying ‘terrorist’ had been there that day.
The true core tenants of Islam are justice,
tolerance, and charity, and Syed Abbass represented the moderate
center of Muslim faith eloquently.” It is very obvious that the
change in perception was not one sided. Many Muslims who thought
of Americans as hostile people changed their perspectives by
having an American present with them; an American who with his
character and good conduct, proved himself to be righteous. On
the other hand Americans who thought of Muslims as rugged
Bedouins and barbarians witnessed the true essence of Islam and
its followers. This was all made possible not by simply watching
a documentary film about
It was Greg Mortenson’s tireless efforts which greatly contributed to the war against terrorism. He won this war not by using the most sophisticated weapons, but by simply placing a pen in the hands of the children. His strategy was far more effective compared to the fighting force of the most powerful army in the world, which is far from from achieving the goal of eradicating terrorism through sheer exercise of warfare. Mortenson has seen the fruits of his labor in the shape of Jahan, Haji Ali’s granddaughter, who became the first educated girl of Khope, who has the ambition to have her career in maternal care. He witnessed another girl, Tahira, who, after finishing her education dreams to become teacher, she wants to continue to kindle the light of knowledge for the coming generation as Mortenson did for her.
Educating the people is the only way to combat and root out the evil of terrorism, and Mortenson was well aware of the fact. Reading his book helped me understand the importance and true value of the intercultural communication and its effectiveness. Mortenson’s experience is a wonderful confluence of eastern and western cultures, demonstrating beautifully how in spit of their disparity and difference, the cultures can work out constructively by bridging the gap and changing many perceptions for the better.
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