Auburn welcomes Greg Mortenson, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee

Auburn welcomes Greg Mortenson, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, on March 3, 2010

Greg Mortenson is traveling to Auburn to host a student dinner, public lecture, slideshow and book signing for Auburn Education Foundation’s (A.E.F.) Inspirational Speaker Series. Mortenson is a humanitarian, international peacemaker, former mountaineer, co-founder of the non-profit Central Asia Institute, founder of the non-profit Pennies for Peace and New York Times bestselling author.

His book, Three Cups of Tea has sold more than three million copies, been published in 34 countries, used in more than 90 colleges and universities, and used in more than 400 high/junior high schools as a common reading experience. The book is mandatory reading for all senior U.S. military commanders, military officers in counter-insurgency training, and U.S. Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan. It is also used for training at the Norwegian war college.

The book’s phenomenal success led it to be adapted into a young readers’ version (Puffin 2009) and a children’s picture book, Listen to the Wind (Dial 2009), both of which were instant New York Times no. 1 bestsellers. Mortenson’s newest book, Stones into Schools (Viking), which continues where the Three Cups of Tea story left off in 2003, was released in December 2009.

After a failed attempt to climb K2, the world’s second highest peak, and while recovering in a local village, Mortenson met a group of children writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school. From that rash promise grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promoting education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mortenson has established more than 90 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. These schools, which provide an education to more than 38,000 children, including 27,000 girls, are where few educational opportunities existed before.

Mortenson is a living hero in rural communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials, and tribal chiefs for his tireless effort to champion education. He is one of just a few foreigners who have worked extensively in places other travelers have never been.

NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw has called Mortenson, “…one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, who is really changing the world.” Congresswoman Mary Bono has said, “I’ve learned more from Greg Mortenson about the causes of terrorism than I did during all our briefings on Capitol Hill. He is a true hero, whose courage and compassion exemplify the ideals of the American spirit.”

Greg advocates that girls’ education should be a top priority to promote economic development, foster peace and prosperity. He says, “You can drop bombs, build roads, or put in electricity, but until the girls are educated a society won’t change.”

When he is not overseas, Mortenson lives in Montana with his wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, a clinical psychologist and their two children.

Auburn Education Foundation’s mission is to provide innovative programs that enhance the quality of education through extended learning opportunities within the Auburn Enlarged City School District. “Peace through Education” is the second lecture in a two-part series. Distinguished Auburn Alumnae, and successful Russian investment banker Robert Foresman, was their first speaker in November 2009.

Mortensen’s lecture tickets were $35, start time is 7:30PM, with seating booked for 1,000 at Auburn High School auditorium. People are coming from as far away as California to see him. Since the event has sold out, the Foundation has made arrangements to use East Middle School’s auditorium to simulcast the lecture. Tickets for that venue are $10.

Abdelaziz shared, “Mortenson’s appearance in Auburn was posted on his website months ago. Since then I have received about a dozen calls and e-mails per week asking for tickets. Three people from other cities, who are pursuing him as a speaker, have asked how we got so lucky to bring him here. Mortenson receives over 800 speaking requests per year and accepts about 100. Most of his engagements are in major metropolitan areas and universities. He routinely sells out stadiums of 5,000+ seats. We are incredibly fortunate to have a speaker of this magnitude coming here.”

In anticipation of Mortenson’s visit, AEF wanted more of Auburn’s students and teachers to know his story. They partnered with the Columbian Foundation to purchase 380 books that were divided among Auburn’s 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and Auburn High School. AEF also purchased extra copies for teachers to read and share with others.

Auburn Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2004. Their mission is to provide support for academic enrichment programs in Auburn public schools, K-12. They operate independently from the school district, yet have a very cooperative relationship.

Tickets may be purchased through the Auburn Education Foundation website They are also available through the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce and Creekside Bookstore in Skaneateles.

For questions, please contact Executive Director, Annette Abdelaziz at (315) 255-8827 or by e-mail: