It's A Gray Area: Gratitude for 'Cups of Tea' author

December 04, 2010|By James P. Gray

Editor's note: Instead of his regular column, James P. Gray this week has decided to share a letter he sent to "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson.

Mr. Greg Mortenson

Central Asia Institute

P.O. Box 7209

Bozeman, Montana 59771

Dear Greg,

In your travels, and carrying out your many obligations in helping to establish schools for boys and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, you meet many people. As such, you will probably not recall me, but I was the last person for whom you signed a copy of your latest book, "Stones into Schools," after you gave your presentation at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas in January.


During our short time together, I tried to communicate to you my pride in what you are doing for Pakistan, Afghanistan, our great country and the world in helping to educate so many people — especially girls. This is certainly not easy in Central Asia! Now that I have finished reading your new book, I am even more in awe of your accomplishments.

Not only has your Central Asia Institute been successful in building schools and educating people, you have put into reality the lesson we tried to learn in the Peace Corps, which is that a project is only really successful if it can get along without you as the founder. This you demonstrated by CAI's assistance, but without your personal involvement, in the building of its most distant school — almost literally on the roof of the world — in Bozai Gumbaz in Northern Afghanistan. Congratulations!

From my perspective, you are actually doing what other people and even governments only really dream of doing. For only modest amounts of money you are building institutions of literacy, self-confidence, self-sufficiency and global good will. In other words, like the sub-heading of your book says, you are promoting peace with books not bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

To further that wonderful effort, please accept not only this enclosed financial contribution, but also my fervent thanks and best wishes. And also please receive my strong hope that you will take extra precautions for your safety in the future while you travel in these dangerous and remote areas in these difficult times!

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