Carson library encourages all ages to read ‘Three Cups of Tea’ |

Carson library encourages all ages to read ‘Three Cups of Tea’

Teri Vance
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

As part of his fifth-grade reading group, Austin Tucker is joining the community in reading “Three Cups of Tea.”

“It kind of makes me think, cherish everything you have because other people don’t have it,” he said. “Don’t just have everything and take it for granted.”

The 11-year-old Seeliger Elementary School student is on the right track, said Carson City Library Director Sara Jones.

The library is sponsoring a citywide initiative, Capital City Reads, to encourage everyone in the community to read “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time.”

The book, written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, chronicles Mortenson’s unsuccessful attempt to summit Pakistan’s K2, which led him to the tiny village of Korphe where the people nursed him back to health.

While there, he met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school.

He made good on that promise and has since established more than 100 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly focusing on educating girls.

He has since established the nonprofit Central Asia Institute to fund construction of schools and set up Pennies for Peace as a way schoolchildren can help in the effort.

“Three Cups of Tea” has also become required reading for U.S. senior military commanders.

After reading the book multiple times, Carson City resident Ed Skudlarek became invigorated by the idea that non-governmental organizations “promoting education and human rights present a practical and humane alternative to war.”

That sentiment was echoed by 8-year-old Nick Reul, whose third-grade teachers Debbie Mariskanish and Kathy Rothschild are reading the youth version of the book aloud to the class.

“They’re already trying to settle wars by fighting, and that’s not going to settle anything,” he concluded.

Jones said the timeliness of the subject was one of the reasons the book was chosen, in hopes that it would inspire a discussion among community members.

“No matter what they believe, hopefully people can sit down and talk to each other,” she said.

Beyond the theme of the book, she said, each reader can find a personal meaning.

“I keep returning to the message that he was just a guy trying to climb a mountain,” Jones said. “He’s just a regular man doing extraordinary things. It’s uplifting to know everyday people can make this kind of difference.”

After reading the book as part of her book group, Gina Heinz said she felt a personal desire to affect change in the world.

“My husband and I talk about it all the time,” she said. “I would love to make a difference like (Mortenson) made a difference. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.”

However, finding a way to do that can be hard, she said, with three kids in college and a full-time job.

“I’d just like to do something on a grander scale.”

At the very least, she said, reading about the conditions in Pakistan gave her a greater appreciation for what she has.

“I was just amazed at the kids doing their homework with sticks in the sand. They craved education,” she said. “We are so lucky to live in this country.”

The importance of education was emphasized to Lorie Schaefer, a former teacher who still substitutes in the classroom.

“They want for their children much of the same things we want for our children,” she said. “They want their babies not to die, and they want their children to go to school. That’s pretty basic.”

She said she recognized the power of education, as Mortenson told of children showing up for lessons even when the teacher did not. How he found that in educating girls, an entire community benefited as they shared their knowledge with their mothers and eventually with their own children.

It was a message that resonated with her, said Schaefer, who spent most of her career teaching remedial reading.

“It’s probably one of the reasons I still go back,” she said. “I can’t think of a better, more worthwhile career. Little miracles happen every day.

“All dreams start here.”