Greg Mortenson, the author of "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools" drew a crowd of at least 4,000 to Gonzaga University's McCarthey Athletic Center -- on a night when this basketball-obsessed college was playing an Elite Eight women's game right down the road.
It was exhilarating and refreshing to see so many people perfectly aware that some things are more important than sports, namely, empowering people in Pakistan and Afghanistan through education. That's what Mortenson does with his Central Asia Institute. They have built 178 schools, mostly for educating girls.
It was an inspiring night, but not necessarily because Mortenson is a dynamic and polished speaker. He's not. I would describe him more as heartfelt and sincere. He admits he's no born speaker. But that's one reason I have been so impressed with him, both in an interview I did with him last week and in Monday's GU talk.
He doesn't have any of the smooth slickness of a politician, a huckster or an evangelist. He's just a guy who thought he saw something that needed doing, and kept doing it until he got it done. And then he kept doing it after that.
If you missed the speech -- maybe you were watching a certain basketball game -- I would encourage you to get a copy of "Three Cups of Tea" (and after that, "Stones Into Schools"). His story is told more thoroughly there -- and it's a story that may change the way you think about the world.
Here's one of his insights: Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you end up educating the whole village