St. Louis was honored last week when Greg Mortenson, the author of "Three Cups of Tea", "One Man’s Mission to Promote…", "Peace: One School at a Time" and one of just a few finalists for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, came to our city and addressed a number of St. Louis’ educational communities.
Who is Greg Mortenson? He is an inspired man who has devoted his life to building schools for young children (mostly girls whom could not be otherwise educated) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was a mountain climber and when injured while climbing K2 recovered in a small Pakistani village. There he realized that no girls were allowed to go to school. He came to believe that if girls could be educated, then they could acquire property, become leaders and create a much better life for themselves and others. Was he successful? Yes. He has spent his life building schools and helping to create solid communities and relationships in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has had built over 500 schools and raised the school opportunity for hundreds of thousand of children.
Greg Mortenson continues to risk his life doing this as the Taliban in those countries do not want women to be educated. Greg has been threatened many times, saw built schools destroyed, but continues to persevere, believing that education is the only way to a peaceful world. And he never gives up.
What a lesson for us in the St. Louis region. Education is the key to future success and world peace. Sadly, Missouri is close to the bottom of the states in money spent on education. We must insist and persevere in St. Louis so our children will be well educated if we are to build up this community, create future leaders and restore St. Louis’ vitality. It rests upon an educated constituency and we are all responsible for that. We cannot give up.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Susan Uchitelle is a consultant for the Voluntary Interdistrict Coordinating Council.