“ He inspected the old slide projector he’d recently repaired with duct tape, to make sure the correct carousel was slotted, patted his pants pocket, checking the laser pointer he used to highlight the peaks of Karakoram was in place, and turned to face his audience. Mortenson was alone with two hundred empty chairs…”
Chapter 18 of Greg Mortenson and David Relin’s Three Cups of Tea specifically relates to the University of South Florida’s Honors College course “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace.” The ultimate purpose of charitable organizations such as Mortenson’s “Central Asia Institute” and the Temple family’s “School Supplies for Afghan Children” is using the voice of leadership to promote change. The ultimate failure of such charitable organizations is not having an audience to speak out to and affect with this voice. Unfortunately, in chapter 18, this happens to our mountain moving hero. Although the trials and tribulations of this career are noted in this part of the book, a more motivating facet can also be interpreted.
Out of the three people that Mortenson unexpectedly spoke to that day at the presentation, one person made it worthwhile. This chapter speaks to the notion in which charitable organizations believe a successful event is one with hundreds, or millions in attendance. In reality, one person is enough.
“On the seat of the last chair in the last row, next to the display of digital watches, Mortenson found an envelope torn from the back of the CAI newsletter. Inside was a personal check for twenty thousand dollars.”
Change starts with you. Stop thinking you are just one person and start believing you are an agent of change. You might not have twenty thousand dollars to leave on a chair at a fundraiser but you have a voice. This one person at Mortenson’s event made it possible for him to keep funding going to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This course “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace” has taught me more than I thought it could already. But, if I had to take one thing away right now it would be that I can make a difference. I don’t have to envy the heroes on the news or become a politician to advocate change. I can start promoting my own beliefs for change.