In the eight years since the United States declared ‘War on Terrorism,’ the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan – the home base for al Qaeda and the rumored hideout of Osama Bin Laden – has been at the center of intense fighting.
One man in the middle of the war zone is award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin, the co-author of the bestselling book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time.” Relin’s work as an investigative journalist has been committed to increasing awareness about critical human rights issues in this region and around the world. His interviews with child soldiers (including a profile of teenager Ishmael Beah, who would later author the bestseller “A Long Way Gone”) have been included in Amnesty International reports and his investigation into the way the INS abused children in its custody contributed to the reorganization of that agency.
Relin will join the HWS community as part of the President’s Forum Series to discuss his views on the region as well as his bestselling book, “Three Cups of Tea,” on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Smith Opera House.
“There are few areas in the world more shrouded in mystery than the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” says Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark D. Gearan. “In gaining a better understanding of this area and its people, we can develop new perspectives on our roles as global citizens. Certainly the opportunity to talk with Relin will deepen our comprehension while challenging us to find ways to make a difference in our community and the world.”
In “Three Cups of Tea,” Relin and co-author Greg Mortenson write about Mortenson’s experiences on his way home from a failed attempt to summit K2. An American mountain climber and nurse, Mortenson became an unlikely champion of education through the accidental relationship he developed with a village in a remote region of Karakoram in Pakistan. Mortenson and Relin suggest that collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education in Pakistan and Afghanistan-particularly for girls-can be one of the most effective means of countering Islamic extremism in the region.
As part of Relin’s visit, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are launching a Community Read featuring “Three Cups of Tea.” Through a partnership with Geneva City School District, The Finger Lakes Times and the Geneva Public Library, every member of the greater Geneva community is invited to read the book and then to attend the President’s Forum lecture.
A runaway New York Times bestseller, in 2007 “Three Cups of Tea” was selected as Time magazine’s Asia Book of the Year and as a Critic’s Choice by People Magazine. It was also awarded the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for nonfiction and chosen as the 2007 Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Book of the Year.
Relin is a graduate of Vassar and was awarded the prestigious Teaching/Writing Fellowship at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. After Iowa, he received a Michener Fellowship to support his groundbreaking 1992 bicycle trip through the length of Vietnam. He spent two additional years reporting about Vietnam opening to the world while he was based in Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital. In addition to Vietnam and Pakistan, he has traveled to, and reported from, much of East Asia.
Relin recently finished a new book about blindness in the developing world. He is currently at work on a book about food, a children’s book with the artist Amy Ruppel and a novel about land mine survivors in Vietnam. He is a contributing editor for Parade and over the years has won dozens of national awards for his work as both an editor and investigative reporter.
Relin’s talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, at the Smith Opera House. It is free and open to the public. The College Store on St. Clair Street is offering a 25 percent discount on “Three Cups of Tea.”
The President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members.