As I drove my teenage son home from school and we talked about his day, I felt momentarily sad that kids in the U.S. aren't as excited about learning as the kids Greg Mortensen talks about in Stones Into Schools. For years, Greg and his group CAI have been building schools for kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the middle of the war and up against Taliban members and heroin smugglers, they negotiate with community and tribal elders and build sturdy but primitive places to hold classes. To many families in these countries, educating their youth is a high but unattainable priority. The kids are dying for walls, books, safety. Literacy is the highest good. The communities are desperate and eager for these schools.
This book blew me away. By the end of it I was crying to hear how a school was successfully built before winter came in the high Hindu Kush mountains, materials carried by yaks, walls erected by villagers during 14 hour days.
I explained it to my son and he completely understood. It's just not quite as exciting to many American 16-year-olds to study high school subjects like algebra 2 and chemistry.
Wonder how they'd feel if all they'd known was war and poverty and a school was their first and best means of escape and rebuilding what their towns needed.
It's just not the same here.
I highly recommend this book and the one before it, Three Cups of Tea. They show a peaceful way of establishing rapport between cultures.