Greg Mortenson at OU!

Although not directly math related (although the schools of course do teach math!), we thought you’d want to know about a talk at OU by an extraordinary person, Greg Mortenson.  You might have seen his book, Three Cups of Tea at the bookstore.  It’s been on the New York Times Bestseller list for the past 166 weeks!

Three Cups of Tea

Who is Greg Mortenson?  He grew up in the midwest and became a very good mountain climber, but then had a transformational experience:

In 1992, Mortenson’s youngest sister, Christa, who suffered from severe epilepsy, died suddenly at 23. Heartbroken, Mortenson decided to honor her memory by leaving her favorite amber necklace at the top of K2, the world’s second-highest peak. But less than half a mile from the summit, after more than 10 punishing weeks of climbing, he turned back to help rescue a fellow mountaineer in trouble. On a five-day hike back to the main road, Mortenson was separated from his team and took a wrong turn off the trail. Lost, sick, and deeply disappointed, he stumbled into a tiny Pakistani village ringed by jagged peaks, so isolated that no foreigner had ever visited. The people of Korphe, farmers and herders, welcomed him and nursed him back to health. The village had no school; the children met outdoors on a patch of bare ground, even in the frosts of autumn. A part-time teacher shared with a distant village came only three days a week, but the kids — 78 boys and four girls — still gathered every day to study. A few had slates they wrote on with mud-tipped twigs, but most scratched their lessons in the dirt with sticks. No books, no pencils, no paper, no roof — just a fierce desire to learn. “I promised I’d build them a school,” Mortenson says, “and fulfilling that promise led me to my life’s work.” Since then, the nonprofit organization he heads, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), has built 78 permanent schools and four dozen temporary schools, trained hundreds of teachers, and transformed the lives of more than 30,000 kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan — two-thirds of them girls — with no other chance at an education.

— Good Housekeeping Magazine

Through sheer hard work, Greg Mortenson has become a tremendous force for good and has improved the lives of thousands of people.  Just like all of us who chose to go to college, he believes that education is the path for people to improve their lives.  He spends half of each year in Pakistan and Afghanistan working with locals to build schools, train teachers, and give people in these towns and villages the tools to improve their children’s lives.

Greg Mortenson at a school in Pakistan

Because of his busy schedule, is it is rare to have the opportunity to hear him speak about his experiences.  We have the great luck that the College of Engineering is sponsoring a visit by Mr. Mortenson.  The details are:

The College of Engineering invites you to …. be our special guests during our Centennial Symposium April 21-23, 2010.

Greg Mortenson Lecture
Wednesday, April 21 at 4:00 p.m.

The University of Oklahoma College of Engineering is pleased to host Greg Mortenson, best-selling author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools. The OU College of Engineering has secured the Lloyd Noble Center (2900 Jenkins Ave.) to accommodate the OU community and members of the public.

— CoE website

The tickets are FREE, you just have to register here.  If you go to one non-math event at OU this year (besides the U2 concert :-)), then this should be the one!

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10 thoughts on “Greg Mortenson at OU!

  1. The story about Greg Mortenson was really neat. It’s great to see that people are willing to use there time to educate those who aren’t as blessed as we are to receive a proper education.

  2. On K2 Mortenson tries to do something entirely symbolic but turns to have a physical impact on the safety of a fellow climber. It’s eerily similar to his help in Central Asia, where as other celebrities and world leaders alike make largely symbolic donations and use the plight of the poor as a publicity stunt, Mortenson actually gets results.

  3. So, I’ll probably be going to see this because it’s worth a little credit for another one of my classes. Maybe I’ll learn something :D.

  4. Wow, Mr. Mortenson’s discussion should be very interesting. He spends a great deal of his time in an area of the world that the US is heavily engaged in (militarily) but that the the American people know little about. I hope he can offer some insight into an area that is increasingly becoming important to us.

  5. I came to his talk in Loyd Noble center last week. What he has done is amazing, and motivating. By helping people who are not as blessed as we are, we appreciate how luckier and live a more meaningful life. Thanks Mr. Mortenson

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