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Three cups author rides wave of news, honors

by: Courtesy of Central Asia Institute, Greg Mortenson, who will give a lecture at Concordia University on Oct. 21, is shown here reading to Gultori schoolchildren in Pakistan, at a school he helped build.

The timing couldn't be better for Greg Mortenson, The New York Times bestselling author, to make an appearance in Portland, with U.S. presence in Afghanistan and troubles with Pakistan still firmly in the news and the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday morning.

Mortenson will give a lecture and signs copies of his book 'Three Cups of Tea,' 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Concordia University. The event has sold out the university's 1,400-seat gymnasium.

As the story goes, Mortenson tried to climb K2 in northern Pakistan in 1993 but came up short of his goal. He found himself in Korphe, in remote Pakistan, and deeply touched by the tenacity and generosity of villagers. He promised to return someday and build a school.

He has done that, and gone beyond, helping establish dozens of schools and other services.

He wrote 'Three Cups of Tea' based on his experiences, and the book has been a New York Times bestseller since 2003; he co-authored 'Three Cups of Tea' with David Oliver Relin.

Mortenson has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

During a recent appearance at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Mortenson talked about how his Central Asia Institute has helped children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Educating girls is the key to peace, he said.

'When you educate girls, you reduce infant mortality and curb population growth,' he said, quoted by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette newspaper. 'A girl who learns to read and write will teach her mother to read and write, which is very empowering.'

He also emphasizes literacy.

'If a young man goes on a jihad, he first has to get permission from his mother,' Mortenson said. 'If she has an education, she is less likely to allow her son to join the Taliban. Unless girls are educated, society will never change.'

- Jason Vondersmith