There were 1,000 made foul shots today (March 5), and they were squeezed in during odd times — 600 before 6:30 this morning, and 400 during lunch — due to my attendance at, and The Beautiful Heth’s participation in, an incredible evening event at Exeter High School featuring Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools.”
The man’s story is beyond inspirational and deserves all of our attention. There’s way too much to tell here, so you can fill in the blanks on your own with a Wikipedia synopsis or Mr. Mortenson’s website. In the meantime, here’s my Haiku version:
Give books and not bombs.
Education will mean peace.
A hundred-plus schools.
OK, so I’m no poet. The gist is that after an ill-fated hike on K2 in Pakistan in 1993, Mr. Mortenson found himself lost and ailing in a remote Pakistani village, and after being nursed back to health by the villagers, he promised to build a school for the community. From that promise came not only that very school, but the Central Asia Institute, the mission of which is to promote education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As of October 2009, the Central Asia Institute has established over 131 schools in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan, which provide education to 54,000 students, including over 44,000 girls.
I know. “Wow” isn’t even close.
Many people had a hand in bringing him to “New Hampshire Serving Three Cups of Tea” at Exeter High, including The Beautiful Heth, my incredible and incredibly pregnant sister Laura, and the “Energizer Bunny” (Mr. Mortenson’s words), our dear friend Paige Oristano. Because I’m lucky enough to be close to those three, I had something of a backstage pass last night, which meant a meet and greet before the event.
And suddenly, there he is, entering the room with the charisma of a rock star and the ego of a young child. He extends a hand, almost shyly. “Hi, I’m Greg.”
A half-hour later, he is speaking to a full Exeter High School auditorium, telling his story and what it all means to him. Mortenson believes that education and literacy globally, particularly for girls, is the most important investment all countries can make to create stability, bring socio-economic reform, decrease infant mortality, decrease the population explosion, and improve health, hygiene and sanitation standards globally. He believes in “promoting peace” over “fighting terrorism.” He believes that a community’s elders, whether that be in remote Pakistan or a neighborhood in Exeter, is of primary importance in understanding a society’s fabric. And he believes that our military commanders agree with him, that if the American mission could be carried out by them and not politicians, we would be traveling a road toward peace.
I was incredibly proud, in a broad sense, to be among so many people who believe in Mr. Mortenson’s cause, and I was personally proud to be alongside The Beautiful Heth, Laura and Mr. Mortenson’s new BFF Paige on a wonderful night they had helped put together.
As for the Hoops, that’s 163,907 down, 836,093 to go to 1 million made foul shots.