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Adventure travel becomes inspiration: an interview with Greg Mortenson author of Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson, author of the bestselling “Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School At A Time,” is perhaps one of the most inspirational humanitarians of all time. Mortenson, nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, and truly deserving of it, describes how an adventurous climbing trip in Pakistan turned into a mission for bringing the region more peace and understanding.

“Ultimately, I think in order to have peace in the world or to make the world a more holistic global society, the key is relationships,” Mortenson said. “I think it's great that people are traveling; they don't do anything specific to help people, but what they're doing — they're ambassadors, they are people who are reaching out to people around the world. I always say that politics won't bring peace but people bring peace."

Mortenson grew up in the area of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and became an avid adventurer and climber. His travel adventures led him to his humanitarian efforts.

Mortenson set off on an adventure to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, and upon failing to summit, came up with a new goal that would become an almost insurmountable challenge. Once back in the US he dedicated all his time and money, even living in his car to save rent, to build a schoolhouse for the village of Korphe. The villagers of Korphe had nursed him back to health when he wandered into their village disoriented and ill coming down from K2. Their kindness moved him to commit to build them a school.

To date, Mortenson has established more than 130 schools and centers in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Adventure traveling opens one's eyes to the real world. Visiting with villagers and patronizing local establishments, rather than touring through hotel chains, is an invaluable life lesson. It may be the most effective way of educating the people of the world on what will truly make the world a better place.

“... The two most important things that can effect the most change in a society are clean drinking water and education,” Greg continued. “If you have education and clean drinking water and sanitation it reduces the health care problems by 50 percent. I say safe water and educate the girls and the world will be a better place.” 

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  • Rufus Frost 5 years ago

    Ms. Cooper, can't wait to read the book.

  • Mindy Adams 5 years ago

    Our school is involved with Pennies For Peace!

  • T Smith Vail 5 years ago

    Keep up the inspiring work!

  • Ed Coombs 5 years ago

    keep up the good work

    time for another exciting trip love, ed

  • Don Shades 5 years ago

    How inspiring, lets take a trip together and keep on trekking.

  • Josie Mautz 5 years ago

    I read "Three Cups of Tea" and it is truly inspirational. Cindy heard Greg Mortenson speak on Bainbridge Island, and loved it.

  • Carrie Georgitsis 5 years ago

    Thank goodness people like Cathy and Greg have the temerity to get off the beaten trail and inspire peace through adventure traveling.

  • Stephanie Haber 4 years ago

    Nice article- fully agree with you on the benefits of adventure travel. The book was so amazing, hopefully between people like Greg and Greg Campbell (Blood Diamonds) who I was lucky enough to hear speak in Denver, people will continue to gain an understanding of what is needed across the world in terms of empathy and support.

  • Lisa W. Aspen 4 years ago

    I am reading the book now - thanks for the article Cathy!

  • Cathy Cooper 8 months ago

    I want to bring everyone's attention to
    Greg Mortenson was wrongly slammed in the media and these filmmakers are doing something about it!
    Please check out the website!