Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Discussion Questions!

Hope you all are enjoying the book and it has inspired a desire for discussion! Below are the first round of discussion questions, please discuss at your leisure. Also, here are some helpful hints and tips regarding online discussion:
Book club members bring diverse and extraordinary experience to the process, each person involved brings depth and creativity to the discussion.
Writing your insights, thoughts, and responses to others in a way that's relatively public can be a little un-nerving at first! Although, it is also important to simply "be present" -- find ways to describe in writing what you might be doing non-verbally, e.g., nodding your head, smiling, or looking quizzically at someone. Imagine making a statement in person and having no response from the audience --let people know you're there, that you've read their posts!

Discussion questions for Three Cups of Tea:
1. There is a telling passage about Mortenson’s change of direction at the start of the book: “One evening, he went to bed by a yak dung fire a mountaineer who’d lost his way, and one morning, by the time he’d shared a pot of butter tea with his hosts and laced up his boots, he’d become a humanitarian who’d found a meaningful path to follow for the rest of his life.” What made Mortenson particularly ripe for such a transformation? Has anything similar happened in your own life?

2. At the heart of the book is a powerful but simple political message: we each as individuals have the power to change the world, one cup of tea at a time. Yet the book powerfully dramatizes the obstacles in the way of this philosophy: bloody wars waged by huge armies, prejudice, religious extremism, cultural barriers. What do you think of the “one cup of tea at a time” philosophy? Do you think Mortenson’s vision can work for lasting and meaningful change?

3. Mortenson hits many bumps in the road—he’s broke, his girlfriend dumps him, he is forced to build a bridge before he can build the school, his health suffers, and he drives his family crazy. Discuss his repeated brushes with failure and how they influenced your opinion of Mortenson and his efforts.

4. Much of the book is a meditation on what it means to be a foreigner assimilating with another culture. Discuss your own experiences with foreign cultures—things that you have learned, mistakes you have made, misunderstandings you have endured.

5. What did you learn about the culture in Northern Pakistan? Did anything surprise you?