Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, is best known for his work in building schools in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, before he began providing educational opportunities to disadvantaged children, he was a nurse.
Earlier today he spoke with 150 Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing students and alumni about some of the challenges and milestones of providing health care in developing countries. "I've learned that it's so important to listen to people and their needs. I learned this as a nurse," Mortenson said.
Three Cups of Tea was the common reading assignment for this year's incoming class. Mortenson will share more about his work and educational endeavors as the keynote speaker for Case Western Reserve University's Fall Convocation this afternoon. The ceremony will be Webcast live beginning shortly before 4:30 p.m.
In some parts of Afghanistan, one out of three children die before they reach their first birthday, Mortenson told the nursing group. But progress is slowly being made. He shared an inspiring story about a young woman who was educated in one of the schools he helped to build. She is now the primary maternal health care provider in her small village.
To further outline the integral relationship between education and health care, Mortenson said when he first began working with people in Pakistan and Afghanistan he asked them about their concerns. Women told him that they didn't want their babies to continue dying, and that they wanted their children to attend school. He also said female literacy is the key to reducing many health care disparities because young women pass on information to their families and communities.
"I think if we want to understand poverty we have to touch, smell and taste poverty whether here at home or half way around the world," Mortenson said.
His advice to nursing students interested in global health care or experiential learning was to "go over with open ears, hearts and minds. It's about building relationships."
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.