Friday, May 08, 2009

Three Cups of Tea - In a Coffee Town

Eugene is a coffee town with more drive through espresso huts per cubic inch than Seattle, Washington so it's pretty special when tea brings people together.

We had an amazing opportunity last night. Greg Mortenson came to Eugene to visit and speak and the presentation was free put on by the University of Oregon. Greg if you haven't heard is an amazing man who builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of his early supporters was Andrew Marcus a Geology professor at U of O. Greg wrote a book Sharyn has read and was so impressed she has sent copies to many of our family and friends. The Book is "Three Cups of Tea."

This is the cover of the book and I expect everyone who reads this blog to buy a copy for themselves {Click Here} to visit the home page and notice there are books for both Young Adults and even a special edition for children titled "Listen to the Wind."

We were lucky and got a parking place right in front on McArthur Court on the U of O campus where the event was being held.

The Event was put on by "The Cultural Forum" a student program board of the University of Oregon. The Cultural Forum presents a broad selection of music, performing arts, film, contemporary issues, and the visual arts. Their programs reflect a wide range of diversity and artistic expression in the entertainment, art and political worlds. Events, like this one, are conceived of, initiated, negotiated, booked, promoted and carried out by student coordinators with the support of dedicated staff members. The event was funded by student incidental fees, event revenue, grants, and other sponsorships.

Yes, this is a University Campus with little parking and many bicycles...

... many decorated to reflect the rider.

When we arrived there was a group playing music. The members call themselves...

Fanna Fi Allah and the music is Sufi. {Click Here} to visit their Website

Their voices were superb and the music very much a mood setting event that reflected countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The voices of the two women were superb. The one with the flower in her hair is from Monterey, CA and the blond young lady is from Ashland, Oregon.

The young men were wonderful singers and musicians and the red instrument was a little like an accordion with a keyboard and a bellows. That instrument is called a harmonium - pretty cool.

The type of music is called Qawwali and the musicians were very kind to fill me in on a few things.

McArthur park was getting filled beyond expectations ...

Did you know that the University of Oregon has the highest per capita representation of any University in the Peace Corps?

I managed to get to the side of the stage where Greg Mortenson (Navy Blue Coat) was waiting to go on with Andrew Marcus (Tan Coat)

"U of O geography professor Andrew Marcus is a friend of Mortenson and was one of his early supporters, serving as a founding board member for the Central Asian Institute." ~ By Greg Bolt The Register-Guard of Eugene Oregon

"Three Cups of Tea" Mortenson’s best-selling non-fiction book is co-authored with journalist David Oliver Relin. The title comes from a lesson he learned from Haji Ali the village chief of Korphe, a village in a mountainous section of Pakistan. When Greg was struggling to build the first school. Ali said: “Here we say, take the time to have three cups of tea. The first cup you’re a stranger, the second cup you’re a friend, the third cup you’re family.”

The thing I noticed about Greg was his ability to come to life when children came to him...

... and like the fine father he is he took time to greet these young children and in that moment he seemed most alive.

Greg has learned not to tower over young people and the children were most comfortable as if he were a peer and not an aloof adult.

I watched as these children swarmed like bees...

... and then he signed their books with great care...

... just as the children love his presence at the schools he builds for them.

Some young people including his Daughter Amira are involved with Pennies for Peace a program of the Central Asia Institute that educates American children about the world beyond their experience and shows them that they can make a positive impact on a global scale, one penny at a time.

Visit their website by {Clicking Here}

Then it was Greg on stage ...

Greg was a wonderfully passionate speaker and his "signing person" was equally animated and maybe a bit more exuberant at times.

When he finished Fanna Fi Allah returned to the stage to play and sell some great CD's and let me get a better picture of the red Harmonium . Sharyn and I left feeling uplifted and resolving to support Greg any way we can.

Scrabble Score ~ Scrabble Queen 354 ~ the Contender 289

Quote of the Day
"I listen to the wind to the wind of my soul where I'll end up well I think, only God really knows." ~ Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, 21 July 1948), best known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British musician of Greek Cypriot and Swedish ancestry. He is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist and prominent convert to Islam.

1 comment:

Tahir said...

What an honor to share in Eugene with Dr. Greg. I grew up in ashland. My Dad's birthday was the same day as this event in Eugene, he sat in the front row with my two nephews. I left satisfied in my heart knowing my nephews has an elder to look up to in their young lives as americans. Thank you everyone for all the GREAT efforts in making May 7th a vivid memory.
Humbly yours, Aminah Chishty, the tabla player of Fanna-fi-Allah


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