My motivation to work in schools began with ‘Three Cups Of Tea’

There are some books that have left an everlasting impact on me, one such book was, ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Greg Mortenson, an American professional speaker, writer, veteran, and former mountainer in the summer of 1993 decided to trek K2, the second highest peak in the world located in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Greg ended up taking a wrong path to reach the summit that led him to stumble across a tiny village in Pakistan called, Korphe. It was located near the desolated Karakoram highway where he was treated with love, kindness till he recovered to leave for the US.

During his stay there he was inspired by the locals generosity to strangers and he wanted to return his gratitude. One day while walking across the village Greg realised it had no schools. Determined to get back on his feet, build schools he headed back to the US.

Over the next decade he builds fifty five schools in Asia’s most desolated, isolated and dangerous places on earth – Pakistan and Afghanistan. The region he built schools were located in the notorious territories of Al-Qaeda and Taliban Terrorists.

Despite being kidnapped and threatened by the Taliban Terrorist, he kept his promise of building schools to the locals of Korphe.

Once I finished this book, I knew I wanted to make a difference in schools in my own country especially in the mighty Himalayas.

Off I began my work applying for jobs, researching on fellowships that required people to work in schools.

Also Read : Some interesting fellowships to do in India

I finally found one that seemed perfect, ‘The Gandhi Fellowship’. It was a two year fellowship on transformational leadership in rural and urban India. I was in awe, I said to myself, “maybe this could be it, I could live in the Himalayas, work in schools, and get trained in leadership.” I was ecstatic, I wanted my own personal journey just like Greg Mortenson.

I applied and got selected for the ‘School Development Leadership Program’ where I would work directly on ground with remote government schools in the himalayas while indirectly intervening with the headmasters. I was pretty pleased with myself. since I would get to work and live in Uttarakhand for two years working in schools.


  1. Hey Payal. Jon Krakauer here, the American author and journalist who wrote “Into Thin Air,” “Into the Wild,” and more recently, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” among other books, including one called “Three Cups of Deceit,” an investigation of Greg Mortenson. I’m glad Mr. Mortenson inspired you to make a difference, but before you continue to associate your name with his on social media, I suggest you read an article I wrote about him, which I have linked below. Best wishes, Jon

    View at


    • Dear Mr Krakauer, it is an absolutely wonderful surprise and privilege to hear from you. I have read two of your books, ‘Into thin Air and Into the Wild’ and found them deeply inspiring and captivating. Thank you for taking the time to write to me and bring to my attention another side of the conversation.

      The article you had sent me was eye opening. I look forward to reading your book about the same.


  2. Payal, thanks for your quick reply to my comment. I admire your enthusiasm for exploring all sides to an argument. It’s always a pleasure to encounter someone with an open mind. Cheers,

    Liked by 1 person

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