Greg Mortenson Comes to Fremont

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Greg Answers Questions from the Audience

greggroup1Question:  You had many setbacks when you first started.  What kept you motivated and going?

Answer:  You’re right.   When I first started there were lots of problems.  I kept a quote on my bathroom mirror:  “When your heart speaks, take good notes.”  My heart told me that in the long run, educating children was the right thing to do and I tried never to lose touch with my heart.

Question:  Where do the schools get the teachers?

Answer:  The teachers are from the local area.  We took the local teachers and educated them.   Now most of our teachers have college degrees.

Question:  Please explain the photo in your book that shows you with your kids and an AK47 in your hands.  What was the meaning of the photo?

Answer:  In tribal areas, children are in contact with guns from early childhood.  We took the picture before 9/11 in a different time from today.   This was a Christmas card we sent out to friends and family and we were thinking of the irony of the gun and the phrase Peace on Earth.   We probably wouldn’t send out something like that today.

Question:  Have you thought of acquiring student lap tops designed for rural areas?

Answer:  Many people wanted us to introduce lap tops into our schools.  But I believe that literacy comes first and we are providing basic literacy and education as first priorities.  Lap tops are not a first priority for us.

Question:  If you could do one more thing what would it be?

Answer:  If I could do one more thing it would be more of the same.  I want to work so that every single child on the globe can receive an education.

Question:  How can we, as individuals, help?  How can we encourage our government to listen?

Answer:  I believe that those who have been converted to the cause of literacy would make the best advocates.

Question:  Have the Taliban attacked your schools?

Answer:  I mentioned that 500 schools were attacked in Afghanistan and 200 in Pakistan.   But what many don’t realize is that those kids are still trying to go to school, still trying to learn.  Fourteen girl students had battery acid thrown in their faces by the Taliban and they have said that the Taliban will have to kill them before they give up their education.  We have had only one school attacked.  In 2007, south of Kabul, 14 Taliban came to our school and beat up the night watchman.  Apparently they were paid off by a local mullah to attack the school.  But that school is now back in operation and doing well.

Question:  How can we personally help?

Answer:  It should be all our top priority.  Nothing will change if we don’t educate girls.  Organizations that do that need our support.   Communities and people can help build peace one school at a time.   And I also call on kids to make a difference.  They want to do that and they have the passion to make a difference.

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