Random Ramblings of a New Yorker

The adventures of a California girl living in New York City

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"I used to assume that the direction of ‘progress’ was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned…the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day…"

Norberg-Hodge continues to argue not only that Western development workers should not blindly impose modern ‘improvements’ on ancient cultures, but that industrialized countries had lessons to learn from people like Ladakhis about building sustainable societies. “I have seen,” she writes, “that community and a close relationship with the land can enrich human life byond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible.” p.112
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“Norberg-Hodge admiringly quotes the king of another Himalayan country, Bhutan, who say s the true measure of a nation’s success is not gross national product, but “gross national happiness.” On their warm, dry roof, among the fruits of their successful harvest, eating, smoking, and gossiping with the same sense of leisure as Parisians on the terrace of a sidewalk cafe, Mortenseon felt sure that, despite all that they lacked, the Balti still held the key to a kind of uncomplicated happiness that was disappearing in the developing world as fast as old-growth forests.” p.120
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"We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We’re the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills…Haji Ali taught [Greg Mortenson] to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them." p.150
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"I don’t want to teach Pakistan’s children to think like Americans," Mortenson says. "I just want them to have a balanced, nonextremist education. That idea is at the very center of what we do." p.209

These quotes come from the book Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. They really got me thinking about just how much material wealth is valued in American society. I particularly feel that “the fact that life seem[s] to get harder and faster with each day…” living in NYC, always having to be on the go. It makes me wonder if this is really how I should be living my life. I’ll probably only be here for a few more years at most. In the end, I want to settle in a place where the pace of living isn’t quite so fast so that I can contribute to a higher “gross national happiness.”

It also reminded me that in my own classroom, it’s not about teaching my students to share my own personal values or mindset, but to give them the tools and opportunities to practice making educated decisions. So when they leave the safety of my classroom, they’ll be able to acknowledge that there are multiple perspectives and make informed decisions about how they should lead their lives.

Just some thoughts…

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