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Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the Three Cups of Tea program? This program, sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and collaborators, brings the work of remarkable humanitarian Greg Mortenson to the community of Fremont in a number of exciting projects.

  • Adults in Fremont are reading the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, as part of the One Book, One Community reading phenomenon. More than a dozen discussion sessions have been arranged for citizens to read, enjoy and talk about this never-to-be-forgotten real-life adventure story.
  • High school students are reading Three Cups of Tea for community service credit.
  • Elementary school children in the Fremont and Newark Unified School Districts are collecting pennies to help build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the process, our community’s children are learning about the wider world around them and the importance of giving to others.
  • Author Greg Mortenson will visit Fremont on March 3, 2009 to share his journey as told in the book Three Cups of Tea. His life purpose of building schools for children, especially girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan has resulted in the building of over 70 new schools in these two countries. More Questions

Why is AAUW sponsoring the Three Cups of Tea? The missions of AAUW and Greg Mortenson are very closely aligned. AAUW and Mortenson both believe in breaking down educational barriers for all girls and women in the world.

We both believe that the way to fairness for all individuals is through education and that providing educational opportunities for all women, indeed all people, will help banish ignorance and bring about peace. Greg Mortenson is working to do that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, volatile areas of the world, one school and one student at a time.

Incidentally, Greg Mortenson is also an AAUW member. More Questions

What is One Book, One Community as it applies to Fremont? One Book, One Community is a reading program adopted by a great many towns, cities, counties and regions throughout the U.S. and around the world. It has proved extremely effective in encouraging citizens to read and talk about books that are of relevance to them and their communities.

The program was started in 1998 by the Washington Center for the Book.

After reading Three Cups of Tea and hearing Greg Mortenson’s presentation, AAUW leaders felt that this would be an ideal book for all of Fremont to read.

On May 27, 2008, Mayor Bob Wasserman signed a proclamation that invited all Fremont citizens to read and discuss the book.

AAUW has sponsored more than a dozen spirited discussion sessions at which Fremont citizens talked about the book, Greg Mortenson’s mission of passion and patience and the importance of education. These book talks have taken place in book stores, libraries, churches, senior centers and other organizations. More Questions

Who else is collaborating with AAUW to bring the work of Greg Mortenson and the book to the community? This has turned out to be a very broad-based community project.

Usually the libraries are chief collaborators in One Book, One Community projects.

In the case of Three Cups of Tea with all its different facets, a great many community organizations have joined with AAUW to discuss and respond to the book.

These include:

  • Alameda County libraries;
  • City of Fremont Human Services Department;
  • California Retired Teachers Association;
  • Afghan Education for a Better Tomorrow;
  • Muslim Support Network;
  • Fremont and Newark Unified School Districts; and
  • Fremont Unified School District Teachers Association.
    More Questions

What is the high school reading project all about? High school students in the Fremont Unified School District are required to donate 40 hours of their time to community service throughout their high school career.

City of Fremont Human Services Department and AAUW have put together a series of innovative activities that encourage teenage students to read the book, hold discussion sessions with their peers and share what they have learned in return for community service credit hours.

In this endeavor, AAUW is also working with the Fremont Unified School District high schools.

The full focus of the program will start in January and continue until Greg Mortenson comes to Fremont on March 3, 2009. More Questions

What, more specifically, is Pennies for Peace? Elementary school children in the Fremont and Newark Unified School Districts are engaged in collecting pennies to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan through Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute.

This non-profit institute has built about 70 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan (10 in Afghanistan and 60 in Pakistan).

This summer alone, Greg, his team and the communities he serves built 10 schools – five in Pakistan and five in Afghanistan.

Although Greg’s first school cost only $12,000, it now costs about $30,000 to build a school in these remote Central Asian villages.

It is our fervent hope that our community can donate one school to feed the minds and hearts of children, with a focus on girls.

A penny, while it’s useless here in America, will buy a pencil for children in these villages and 100 pennies will pay for a teacher for one day.

The program started in early October and will end by Thanksgiving. Thus far the children have raised almost $24,000.

AAUW is working closely with the retired teachers of Fremont and Newark (CRTA) and the Unified School Districts of Newark and Fremont to provide interesting learning experiences for the children about Afghanistan and Pakistan. The children are also using their math skills to collect, count and add the totals of the pennies collected. But, most importantly, the children are encouraged to experience the joy of giving to others.

Community businesses such as Bank of the West, Raley’s and Office Max have also helped make this program successful.

The enthusiasm and excitement this program has engendered among teachers, students and parents is downright heartwarming.

This program is a source of great pride for our whole community. More Questions

What is it about the book Three Cups of Tea that attracted AAUW and the community? This book, on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years, has won universal appeal wherever it is read and dozens of communities across this nation have now adopted this book as part of their reading adventures.

We think it holds special appeal for Fremont area communities. First and foremost, it is an exciting book about a former mountain climber who, out of a failure to reach the peak of K2, found a whole new life and career as a philanthropist. He is quiet and humble and doesn’t present himself as a hero yet his exploits are great and many of them done against fierce odds.

Also, Fremont has many Afghan and Pakistani citizens in its midst. Their culture enriches our community. It is important that we know more about their countries and their people, and this book begins to help us make those connections.

But, most importantly we believe that Greg Mortenson’s mission to educate children, especially girls, in areas where educational opportunities are few, is a vital move toward peace, prosperity and equity and a blow against poverty and ignorance. As they say in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Education truly is the light. More Questions

What is AAUW? American Association of University Women has, for 126 years, advanced women’s equity through a unique integration of time, energy and philanthropy. The Fremont Branch of AAUW has 140 members today and has been a chapter since 1961. Our members come from every walk of life and profession.

To fulfill this mission we provide scholarships for promising students, bring women together in a number of collegial activities and help promote equity for women not only in America but around the world.

Although we have the word “women” in our name we also welcome the membership of men.

For example, Greg Mortenson is a member as is Steve Cho, representative on the Fremont City Council. More Questions

What would you say to those who believe we shouldn’t be giving donations to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the form of Pennies for Peace when the need is so great in America? Given the global connection of our lives these days, witnessed by our international economic troubles, what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan affects us.

We believe that it is important for young people to become citizens, not only of their own communities, but of the world. The Pennies for Peace program isn’t just a call for donations. It is also a learning experience for children that gives them information on the two countries, encourages them to give to others less fortunate than themselves and teaches them that one person can truly make a difference.

Pennies for Peace has been accepted as part of the elementary school children’s service learning curriculum that passes along the concept to give with their hearts to the community. More Questions

What happens when Greg Mortenson comes to Fremont? Greg will come to Fremont on March 3, 2009.

We will alert everyone as to where his presentations will be held.

Characteristically he talks about his book Three Cups of Tea and gives us an update on his work as well as the political and social climate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He has generously pledged to be here talking to Fremont citizens for almost 12 hours and three sessions are being scheduled so he can meet as many of us as can be arranged.

This is something you won’t want to miss. Put this on your calendar and as reporters you will want to cover this. You may also want to interview him and we can work with his staff to help make this happen. More Questions

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