Archive for March, 2010

Greg Mortenson’s story of perseverance in building schools for Pakistani children is admirable but the approach he used was incompete. Read more

The Internet’s Effect on Perspective

My pen pal, Nathan, is a software developer that lives and works in Australia.  He is a rather upbeat and energetic person who loves computers and software development and continuously works with Americans on projects over seas.  We shared information on how we obtain our news about the world and terrorism and, for the most part, we had similar sources:  mostly online resources like the new york times online, aljazeera and the BBC or some social network services like Twitter or personal blogs.  Neither of us own a television or have newspaper / magazine subscriptions and I know I really don’t pick one up unless I have nothing better to do while eating. Read more

Let’s Talk Over Some Tea.

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. Read more

My Pen Pal

Paul lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He has attended both high school and college in the country and is currently employed by Technobrain to work on computers.

I met him on my trip to Kenya as volunteer camp staff for a United Youth Corp project this past December, and we worked together as volleyball and team-building staff for Kenyan youths.

My 3 Cups Of Tea

After reading the compelling story of Greg Mortenson’s journey to create schools in Pakistan and surrounding areas in order to improve the lives of young children, who Mortenson did not even know, it offered a bit of hope in eventual peace between the West, specifically the United States, and the Middle East. Read more

Three Cups For Everyone

Mortenson reads to the children of Pakistan

In 2009, Greg Mortenson told Thomas Friedman, a op-ed writer for the New York Times, that he was originally critical of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, he said, something changed. Mortenson credits the U.S. military with “starting from the ground up” (NYT 7/18/09), and building relationships in order to truly help the people in the country they are occupying.

In the book “Three Cups of Tea,” the story of Mortenson’s personal journey that led him to be a hero for the children of Pakistan, he talks about listening to himself, and how that showed him what he needed to do. While watching the children, completely silent and without supervision, scribble their math into the dirt, Mortenson comments, “There was a fierceness in their desire to learn, despite how mightily everything was stacked against them… I knew I had to do something” (32).Later, when he realizes that his western idea of progress and production was much too fast-paced for the simple people he was dealing with, his internal commitment materializes into a realistic commitment to the Baltistani people.

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My Cup o’ Tea

After reading the book “Three Cups of Tea”, I began to consider ways in which I could help change the world attitude concerning terrorism and help affect change that can benefit future generations. In trying to picture myself becoming like a Greg Mortenson however, I looked past my own attitudes and mindset. 

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Contributing My Own ‘Cup of Tea’

Three Cups of Tea is an inspirational and educational account of Greg Mortenson’s experience as founder of the Central Asia Institute, which, by building schools and providing basic infrastructure, helps combat the impoverished conditions that fuel terrorism, specifically in the Middle East.

Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute

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My Own Cup of Tea

“Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.”

This quote taken from David Oliver Relin’s book, Three Cups of Tea, aptly describes the central framework through which this compelling narrative operates. Relin’s book relates the story of Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer who vowed to construct 55 schools in Taliban territory after failing to summit K2. Mortenson devoted his entire life to constructing these schools, especially for girls, in the hopes of educating Pakistani children. Read more

“Munich” – Bias and the counterproductive view of counterterrorism

Bias. The judgements that an individual carries with them that influence his or her outlook on a subject, idea, or issue. Everybody has them, from teachers, to politicians, to the Pope and the President. As a journalist, perhaps the most important skill that comes into play involving bias is when to recognize it. Whether looking at a source or using a quote, journalism instinct tends to look for possible bias. Because movies present the viewpoint or vision of the director and writers, they also contain these same types of bias and they should be viewed with skepticism. Steven Spielberg’s film “Munich”, despite providing an honest historical context in which it is set, pushes the director’s framing of counterterrorism as counterproductive and opens up room for criticism due to it’s “un-patriotic” viewpoints.

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.