Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Could NOT Believe This! (with update...)

Over the winter break, I read an amazing book called Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It was about Greg Mortenson, a climber, who attempted to climb K2 in Pakistan. His expedition failed to reach the summit, and on his way down he got lost. He wandered into a Pakistani village, where the people nursed him back to health and essentially saved his life. He was shocked to discover that the kids in the village only had a teacher three days a week and they practiced their lessons outside, writing in the dirt, so he vowed to raise enough money to build them a school. The whole book is about his fundraising and struggles to build the Korphe school while starting the Central Asia Institute, a foundation that has since funded many more schools all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are battling "terrorism" where it starts: by providing a balanced, un-extremist education to boys and girls in that area.

Since reading the book, I've discovered that there is a "Young Reader's Edition" which is basically the same story with more pictures and more information about things kids are interested in...like personal stories of other kids! I read the first few chapters of this edition and decided that it would have to be my next read aloud. After all, if there's anything my students need right now, it's some perspective. Most of them have it pretty bad, but to learn about kids on the other side of the world who have NOTHING, except the hope and desire to learn...well, it should give a few of my students something to think about at least.

On Friday (four days ago!) I decided to write an email to the Central Asia Institute and tell them about the kids in my class. I told them how much I loved the book and how eye-opening I expect it to be for my students. I explained that I plan to read it aloud to my kids, but I would really like for each of them to have a copy of it so they can read along with me. I humbly asked for a class set of Three Cups of Tea, the Young Reader's Edition - I made Chud proofread the letter twice and I almost deleted it, but decided to send it anyway. It couldn't hurt, right?

WELL! Today (Tuesday!) I dropped my class off at their Art class and went to check my mailbox in the teacher's lounge. There were two boxes from Amazon.com with my name on them. Hmm...I didn't order anything from Amazon. I thought there may have been a mixup, but when I opened the first box I found SIX HARDBACK COPIES OF THREE CUPS OF TEA!!!!! I gasped - it literally took my breath away. Oh my God! Is this for real?? I ripped open the other box to find seven more copies, for a grand total of THIRTEEN books for my class! There was no one else in the teacher's lounge, but I just kept saying in a high, shrieky voice, "Oh my God! Oh my God, I can't believe this!!" I started to CRY - I was so excited. I ran the boxes upstairs to my room, emailed Chud, and called my Mom! I had to celebrate with somebody!

To think that a company who receives hundreds of thousands of emails at any given moment, would even READ my email, much less respond to it, was a miracle to me. I wonder who actually read it, and who placed the order to Amazon, and if the guy at Amazon who packed it up knew that it would be going to such a deserving class for FREE? The packaging label said that 7 books cost $88.56! I can't spend that kind of money! Isn't that amazing? There truly are some wonderful people in this world. I cannot WAIT to start this book with my kids and have some meaningful, powerful discussions. If nothing else, at least they'll learn that writing can make things happen!

And by the way, if you've never read the book, you really have no excuse after reading my story. I think every person I can get to read it is like a little "thank you" from me to Dr. Greg!

Update: A second box arrived today (Wednesday) with twelve books in it! I re-read my original email to CAI last night and I asked for a "class set of 20 books," but I now have a grand total of TWENTY FIVE books for my kids. I'm still in shock. How does a teacher even begin to thank an organization for such a life-changing gesture?


Meredith said...

I am so impressed that you made the effort in the first place! Not that I am surprised - you're one of the best fourth grade teachers in the country. No doubt.

Redhead Runner said...

Rachael that is incredible! I guess it proves there really are some selfless people still left in the world somewhere.

In addition, your description really sounded intersting, so I decided to mosey on over to Amazon myself and order one for the Crawford household.

Laura said...

What a great story! Sorry it's taken me so long to comment -- I've been studying at night and wouldn't let myself read my blogs till the test was over. I'm so glad they responded -- your kids are so lucky!