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Another cup of tea . . .


Here's a follow-up to Cassie's latest post. I shared with some of you that Greg Mortenson was the key note speaker at Bb World this year. I thought I'd share a little more about his talk and what it left me thinking about and reflecting on. Like Cassie said, Greg Mortenson is on a mission very similar to Princess Pauahi. His goal (that's not the right word), his passion is to empower people through education and specifically to empower the oppressed people of Afghanistan. First of all, before the keynote, I had read about who the speaker was and what book he wrote so I was fully expecting him to focus on the use of technology, specifically Blackboard, to spread education throughout the world. I was very pleasantly surprised that his talk focused solely on people and education. He started off by saying that the medium, whether it's a chalkboard or Blackboard or a piece stone, doesn't matter because at the very essence of education is the person you are teaching. I was quickly impressed at how a huge corporation, whose acquisitions list just grew to include Wimba and Elluminate, was reaching out to their clients by connecting to their passion and concentrating on the "human" factor of what they do. I'm sure that was all a part of their marketing plan to build their tribe and highlight themselves as a purple cow, but it worked on me :).
For me, his talk came at the right time. We were closing out the FY and revving up to start another. His stories and pictures made me reflect on all of the learners we've impacted and how every single number on that dashboard is a real person with their own, unique story of how one of our programs impacted them. I think it's important for all of us, being the high achievers that we are: :), to feed our souls and in the flurry of tasks and project sheets and deadlines and time lines and back to back meetings, to stop and think about what we do, how we do it, why we do it and how that makes us feel. That's the data I need to inspire me. I hope it inspires you, too!
Here's some of my favorite quotes from his speech:
  • "Listen to the elders. Education starts with wisdom."

  • "Build the bridge. You cannot understand another person's perspective or experiences without experiencing it yourself and you cannot teach them without understanding them."

  • "Educate a boy and you educate an individual, educate a girl and you change the world." - huge implications for our A`o Makua learners and inter-generational learning.

  • "When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - failure is okay, if you don't know how to fail, you won't see the way to success.

  • Here's one from "Three Cups of Tea: "It may seem absurd that a "primitive" culture in the Himalaya has anything to teach our individualized, modernized society. But our search for a future that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have never been abandoned."

The title of his book comes from the tradition of drinking tea: one cup and you are a stranger, the second cup and you become a friend, the third cup and you join our family. What I learned from his speech and how I'd like to apply this is to encourage all of you to have a cup of tea, or two or three with someone who inspires you and helps you to remember the importance of what you do to those that you empower. Maybe we'll all have a cup of tea together at the next Branch Day :)

Here's an interview with Greg Mortenson on the Today Show More from Bb World 2010 to come . . .



Dorothy said…
Mahalo e Kelly for your post. Now that I've read both Cassie and your blogs, I intrigued to hear more about Greg Mortenson.

Related to what you mentioned above, I'm very interested in hearing more about the quote, "Educate a boy and you educate an individual, educate a girl and you change the world." - huge implications for our A`o Makua learners and inter-generational learning. I guess I'll need to sit down to have a cup of tea with you to discuss further. :)
Kelly D. said…
Hi Dorothy,
He explained this African proverb by saying that women are traditionally more likely to teach their children than men are. Mothers are typically the ones who will share what they know and innately want to teach their children new ideas. He used Oprah's school for girls as an example. In central Asia, the Taliban specifically forbids and tries to destroy any schools in which girls are allowed to attend. He also said that even in modern societies, like America, where roles are not as distinct and fathers are just as involved in the education of their children, mothers are still predominantly the ones that will pass on knowledge whether it is traditions, customs or new concepts to their children. For A`o Makua, we know that it is typically women who take our courses. We have a open opportunity to really provide them with strong cultural content and support and encourage that inter-generational learning. Not something we didn't know or strive for, but a reaffirmation I guess of our kuleana to do so and it comes from the wisdom of another indigenous culture and the people who trying their best to educate them.

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