While some of the products of this time orientation, like their emphasis on traditional forms of hospitality and the slow pace of the culture in respect to the dynamic rhythms of nature, are valuable and perhaps superior to our own cold, rushed, and removed values, other aspects of the Baltis past-oriented culture are not. There is great religious intolerance by some members of the society, such as the Taliban and a constant hashing-over of tribal and religious grievances produced very negative results. At one point, Mortenson was kidnapped, beaten and threatened by Islamic extremists for his efforts, simply because he was an outsider and American. Mortensons founding of schools enabled him to share the future-orientation of American culture in a positive way, just as the Baltis hospitality brought positive aspects of their culture into his life.
These forms of fruitful cultural dialogue show the benefits of cultural interaction, and show how individuals can learn when forced to question their most dearly-cherished notions. Take, for example, the value of what is termed success. American culture places a high priority on achieved status, that is, what an individual has done with his or her life — how he or she has pulled him or herself up by his or her bootstraps. In contrast, Balti culture stressed assumed status, including the status one is born into like gender. This emphasis on assumed status has benefits, like the value given to village elders and religious leaders, but can also hamper the development of individuals such as the young girls of the village.
Mortenson learned to reevaluate his own concept of success as always climbing the highest and greatest mountain, and redefined success as helping others in a more traditional sense of communal values. The Balti, especially the girls, have learned to take pride in individualistic intellectual accomplishments through Mortensons schools. Despite his many setbacks, Mortenson still believes that his efforts have and can enact positive cultural changes that benefit both Pakistan and the United States: “he notes that the Taliban recruits the poor and illiterate, and he also argues that when women are educated they are more likely to restrain their sons. Five of his teachers are former Taliban, and he says it was their mothers who persuaded them to leave the Taliban; that is one reason he is passionate about educating girls” (Kristoff 2008). Ending ignorance can bridge divides, and perhaps even end the threat of worldwide terror.
Beer, Jennifer. (2003). High and low context. Culture at work. Retrieved 5 Nov 2008 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html
Gardener, Marilyn. (2006, September 12). A failed mountaineer becomes a philanthropist after a village saves his life. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 5 Nov 2008 at http://www.threecupsoftea.com/2006/09/12/a-failed-mountaineer-becomes-a-philanthropist-after-a-village-without-a-school-saves-his-life/
Kristoff, Nicholas. (2008, July 13). It takes a school. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 Nov 2008. http://www.threecupsoftea.com/2008/07/13/ny-times-school-not-missiles/
Mortenson, Greg & David Oliver Relin. (2007). Three Cups of Tea. New York: Penguin.
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