Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What sort of character is Jean Hoerni, and is his support of Mortenson's project surprising in any way?

    By the accounts of many who have dealt with him, Hoerni is a cantankerous man who carefully guards his money. However, he enables Mortenson to purchase supplies for the Korphe school, and his support is unflagging. His greatest joy, before death, is seeing a picture of the Korphe school. He is perhaps more complex and softhearted than his initial descriptions as "difficult" might suggest.

  2. 2

    What qualities in Tara Bishop and Greg Mortenson make their marriage an apparent success?

    They both have mountaineering backgrounds and connections to Pakistan, so her investment in his work is sincere. Although it is difficult for Tara to raise two children in the U.S. while Mortenson spends a good portion of the year in Asia, her shared commitment to the school-building project helps her persevere. They also both believe that family should be their shared priority and discuss how to make that possible.

  3. 3

    What are the strong and weak points of Greg Mortenson's character, and how do these help or hurt him as he runs the Central Asia Institute?

    Mortenson's strong points are his extensive knowledge of the region, including its languages and cultural and religious practices. By virtue of his gregarious, compassionate personality, he quickly builds an extensive network of friendship. He also has indefatigable energy. His weaknesses are his lack of organization and his vague sense of time, which sometimes result in project delays and precarious finances for the Central Asia Institute.

  4. 4

    Greg Mortenson and his fellow employees at the Central Asia Institute encounter significant frustrations after the September 11th attacks. Describe one new difficulty that they face.

    They are frustrated that the American mission in Afghanistan, though purported to be a multi-pronged military and humanitarian approach, does not have visible humanitarian aspects. Schools in Afghanistan are highly damaged after American military intervention. In addition, Mortenson's work is called into question by audiences back home, who resent that he is helping Muslims.

  5. 5

    Describe the personal change that Jahan undergoes following her education.

    Jahan, initially introduced as a young girl who shyly hides behind her veil, undergoes quite a radical transformation after she is exposed to education. During a men's town meeting in Korphe, she "bursted into the room, stepped through the circle of thirty tea-sipping men...and approached the man who had built Korphe a school" (Chapter 22), requesting funding for medical training. Her exuberant forthrightedness "was far from usual in the Braldu Valley's last village." She "didn't defer to anyone." This is the kind of female empowerment that Mortenson hopes to bring about through his work.

  6. 6

    What reasons does Mortenson give for focusing the educational effort on girls?

    Mortenson believes that, whereas young men take their education and leave their hometowns for the city, young women are much more apt to pass their knowledge onto members of their communities. He believes that educated young women will make sure their children are equally educated, and that community development tends to be a higher priority for them than for men. In Chapter 16, he puts it this way: "Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in cities. But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community and pass on what they've learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.”

  7. 7

    How does the landscape of Baltistan affect the psychological/physical profile of Balti people?

    The mountains are some of the highest in the world, and the most striking. The landscape is not very forgiving, and it encourages a certain physical resilience in the Balti people. Moreover, they seem to be emotionally strong and able to take on almost any challenge.

  8. 8

    Describe the nature of the "Kargil Conflict" between India and Pakistan. What precipitated it?

    Kashmir is the region that India seized around the time of partition between India and Pakistan. India promised to hold elections, but the largely Muslim population was never given that opportunity. In 1971, they drew a Line of Control (LOC) and ostensibly reached a detente. Most years since, each country would lob shells or fire at the other side, but casualties were extremely low. In 1999, after conducting nuclear weapon tests, Pakistan (led by Nawaz Sharif) started instigating a conflict. Eight hundred heavily armed Islamic soldiers crossed into Indian Kashmir, although Sharif said the soldiers were fighting independently of Pakistan. India responded with fighter jets and the "Kargil Conflict" began.

  9. 9

    What does Aslam's childhood story in Hushe reveal about the state of education there?

    The fact that Aslam was sent "downside" to study was remarkable. He was one of the only villagers to receive an education, and when he turned down a government post to return to Hushe and attempt to set up a school, local parents did not want to send their children there. Children were encouraged, instead, to work in the fields. This echoes what families in this region initially thought of education (before coming to embrace it).

  10. 10

    How does Mortenson's embrace of the local culture and religion aid him during his time in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    Mortenson's donning of the traditional outfit, the shalwar kameez, as well as his keen interest in, and respect for, Islam, helps him earn the trust and respect of people with whom he works there. Islam dictates how social and business interactions are conducted, and Mortenson's growing knowledge of these intricacies helps him develop personal and business relationships seamlessly. Arguably, reciting the Koran during his captivity in Waziristan may have helped him: "The grizzled mullah nodded once, as if satisfied" (Chapter 13).