The book “3 Cups of Tea” offers a really great perspective in to the lives of the poor in Pakistan in the Balti region and what one mountain climber started to improve that area.  His initial efforts in building one school spawned a series of further contributions of schools, women’s centers and an entire organization dedicated to improving the area.  Education is one of the most important tools in combating extremism and his organization worked hard to teach moderation and not preach American or western ideals.  I believe one of the most important aspects of Mortenson’s ability to get his work done was his willingness to communicate and build relationships with anyone he could find.  In doing so he had to learn the languages to communicate his ideas. America, as one of the most powerful and influential nations on the planet, should be able to properly communicate with other nations of the world and language should not be a barrier.  In my experience growing up in the mid-west and finally Arizona, foreign language studies have not been a very important subject during primary / middle and high school and yet understanding and being able to communicate is one of the most fundamental ways of being human.  I think we should all take it upon ourselves to promote foreign languages in young people and ourselves to break down the language barriers that divide the world.  One of the first steps should be more integration of foreign languages in primary and middle school because it has been shown that learning and understanding foreign languages is easier at a young age. (http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/second.html).

My pen pal thought that this was an interesting proposition because he doesn’t speak another language either.  His biggest concern with this idea was even though people can talk to each other and voice their opinions they probably won’t go out and do it on their own.  People like to be comfortable with where they are and so will rarely put them in more tense situations with people that speak different languages and are in different cultures.  So to build on this he proposed adding a community area where people could talk freely, play games and socialize in a simple and non offensive way.  He believes that this is probably the best for children as they grow up and that is where most anti-terrorism tactics should target.