Posts Tagged ‘Three Cups of Tea’

A Coloring Book, Then a Smile


By D.R.Richards

Coloring for the first time, Amantani Island, Peru

The simple act of giving a child a coloring book on the high mountain island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca, where we have been taking small groups for years, bridges our cultures. It also helps reach out by giving a little something back. By no means is it as big as building a school, or other major project that other more established organisations are doing in Peru. As mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a  smile,” and in this case a coloring book, then a smile.

We at Mountain Spirit Institute believe that to truly connect with others in our world, when we travel its good to reach out in anyway you can. Reaching out  might be that smile, the  coloring book,  or listening well to the people you’re visiting rather than building them what you think they need, a good lesson from Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. Of course listening well implies you need a good interpreter or hopefully have studies the local lanquage, and I don’t mean Spanish.  Next time you travel, load up on some coloring books and colored pencils. Leave the chocolates at the city, and take some paper and pencils instead. The local kids will love it, and you’ll smile too.

Three Cups of Tea in Action


Three Cups of Tea

Learn what one retired high school teacher is doing to spread the word about international understanding in local New England schools.

By Randall Richards
When Frank Hammond, of New London New Hampshire, USA,  becomes passionate about something, he gets involved with no reservations.  A long-time contributor to various community projects, a popular and effective high school teacher, and former Executive Director of the  Lake Sunapee Protective Association, Hammond recently read the New York Times Bestseller  Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, and was motivated to get the book in front school children in the region. One of the strategies, he mentions  “is to teach kids empathy skills, i.e., listening to others and building healthy relationships both at home and abroad with foreign cultures.”  Learn more by watching the interview below…

Editor’s Note: Frank Hammond was my 8th grade home-schoolroom teacher in Sunapee, NH.  He was a great teacher, and left a big impression on my me, and I’m sure on my fellow classmates as well. If his  Facebook “friends count” is any gauge, he’s still just as popular as ever with alumni. Thanks for the interview Frank!
R. Richards

‘Gross National Happiness’

3 cups of Tea

Three cups of Tea

A Mountain Spirit Board member, plus a few others, have been telling me I need to read “Three Cups of Tea”  by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s a great story about persevering a dream of building a school for the children of Korphe, Pakistan. One passage, quoted below, reminds me of how gravitating back to sustainable cultures can make our lives saner. If you’ve not read Three Cups of Tea, I suggest you pick up a copy.
An excerpt from the book that caught my eye: 
“A book he’d read , Ancient Futures, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, was much on Mortenson’s mind. Norberg-Hodge has spend seventeen years living just south of these mountains in Ladakh, a region much like Baltistan, but cut off from Pakistan by the arbitrary borders colonial powers drew across the Himalaya. After almost two decades studying Ladakhi culture, Norberg Hodge has come to believe that preserving a traditional way of life in Ladakh-extended families living in harmony with the land- would bring about more happiness than “improving”  Ladakhis’ standard of living with unchecked development.

Ancient Futures

Ancient Futures

“I used to assume that the direction of ‘progress was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned,” she writes. “I passively accepted a new road through the middle of the park, a steel-and-glass bank where a 200-year-old church had stood…and the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day. I do not anymore. In Ladakh I have learned that there is more than one path into the future and I have had the privilege to witness another, saner, way of life- a pattern of existence based on the co-evolution between human beings and the earth.”
Norberg-Hodge continues to argue not only that Western development workers should not blindly impose modern “improvements” on ancient cultures, but that industrialized countries had lessons to learn from people like Ladakhis about building sustainable societies. “I have seen,” she writes, “that community and close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible.”
Norberg-Hodge admiringly quotes the king of another Himalayan country, Bhutan, who say the true measure of a nations success is not gross national product, but  ‘gross national happiness.”