Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

Get­ting lost with a pur­pose “I am noth­ing more than a fel­low who took a wrong turn in the moun­tains and never quite man­aged to find his way home,” au­thor/ac­tivist/ ed­u­ca­tor Greg Morten­son ex­plains in his new book, Stones Into Schools: Pro­mot­ing Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pak­istan (Vik­ing). Morten­son was at­tempt­ing to climb the for­mi­da­ble moun­tain K2 in Pak­istan but got lost and ended up in a small vil­lage called Kor­phe, where he en­coun­tered a young girl who asked him to build a school for her there. He and the Cen­tral Asia In­sti­tute, which he co-founded, have since es­tab­lished more than 130 schools in Pak­istan and Afghanistan— a daunt­ing task, given those coun­tries’ bat­tlescarred at­mos­pheres and the ex­pected fi­nan­cial, cul­tural, and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges an out­sider might face.

This book is a fol­low-up to Morten­son’s pop­u­lar 2006 book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mis­sion to Pro­mote Peace ... One School at a Time, and it’s a very en­gag­ing ac­count of his mostly suc­cess­ful ef­forts to cre­ate hope in en­vi­ron­ments where de­struc­tion and death eas­ily take root. Along the way, he dis­cov­ers that not every­one places the same value on ed­u­ca­tion that he and his staff do. Still, more of­ten than not, Morten­son and com­pany man­age to get their schools built, even if it means deal­ing with dif­fi­cult war­lords, af­fa­ble opium dealers, un­pre­dictable free­dom fight­ers, and misog­y­nis­tic fathers, husbands, and broth­ers. To Morten­son, ed­u­ca­tion pro­vides an in­valu­able tool for a com­mu­nity, al­low­ing its mem­bers to think for them­selves and not fall easy prey to rad­i­cal thoughts.

Morten­son gives a pre­sen­ta­tion on his ex­pe­ri­ences at 7 p.m. Wed­nes­day, Dec. 9, at St. Fran­cis Au­di­to­rium at the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art, 107W. Palace Ave. Ad­mis­sion is $50, and that in­cludes a signed first edi­tion of the book. The event, hosted by Gar­cia Street Books (986-0151), ben­e­fits Pen­nies for Peace, a non­profit Morten­son founded. The event is sold out, but there may be re­turns; call the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 988-1234.

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