Storytelling and How 3 Cups of Tea can Change the World

Imagine if world peace could be accomplished for pennies.

You know those little copper disks that we leave laying on the ground cause they’re worth so little.

No more bombs, no more causalities, no more terror – peace, for pennies.

That’s just what Nobel Peace Prize nominee and The New York Times best-selling author Greg Mortenson thinks is possible… and he has been focused on just that for the last 16 years.

The son of educators himself, his devotion to building schools began in 1993. After failing to mount K2, the world’s second highest mountain’ an adventure undertaken to honor his youngest sister, who died of cerebral epilepsy’ he lost his way and stumbled into a small, remote village in Pakistan, where people took him in, nursing him back to health. Out of gratitude, he pledged to return and build a school… read more>>

And return to build a school is just what he did… and has done 131 times over. Build schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan to say thank you to those generous, open-hearted, people who took him into their homes and nursed him back to health.

Mortenson has shared that,

‘In my own observation, educated women tend to refuse to allow their sons to join terrorism groups, he says, adding that about 30 of the 1,100 teachers he knows in Afghanistan are former Taliban sympathizers, who explained to him that they defected after their mothers told them it was “disgraceful.”

I had the joy of getting to attend a luncheon where Dr. Greg (as the people of Korphe nick-named him) spoke about his experiences helping to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What I took away most were not the staggering statistics or the pleas for policy change – what stayed with me, haunted me, inspired me to share with friends and family and co-worker and anyone who would listen were the stories of the people Mortenson has connected with along his journey.

Here at Schipul we are very focused on the art and power of storytelling. We help our clients craft and share their stories and we have a culture of supporting our fellow Schipulites in telling their own personal stories.

In Half the Sky Nicholad D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn write,

Frankly, we hesitate to pile on the data, since even when numbers are persuasive, they are not galvanizing. A growing collection of psychological studies show that statistics have a dulling effect, while it is individual stories that move people to act.

I for one can attest to the power of storytelling, based on my experience at the ‘3 Cups of Tea” luncheon. One week has passed since the luncheon and what I remember most is that 1 dollar will fund a child’s education for an entire month and the story below…

Mortenson had a meeting with shura (a council of elders) in Oruzgan province in volatile, southern Afghanistan. He wanted to build a girl’s high school in this Taliban controlled part of the country and these men’s approval was the key. The shura asked to visit one of the Central Asia Institutes (CAI) schools. Mortenson shared that these very powerful men arrived with long black beards, black turbans, machine guns and belts of grenades. What these men noticed was the playground at the school and for an hour and a half these men, these fierce powerful ruling men, laid down their weapons and with turbans flying played on the swing set. Mortenson let them have their fun and when it came time to settle into the business of the visit the shura said there was no need to meet – they were satisfied. They would give him the land, the supplies, the labor he needed – he would have his high school.

What Mortenson realized was that for these men, raised in a country at war… from the moment they could walk they were taught to fight. These men, these fierce, armed, powerful men had never been allowed to be children. They had never played – and what they wanted for their children was a school where they could swing and play and learn.

If this story moves you and you want to know more about Mortenson and the Central Asia Institutes work building schools check out: