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Indystar (IN) | September 23 2010
Greg Mortenson to speak at St. Luke’s church | by Gretchen Becker

An author who has inspired students and adults to give back to their communities is coming to Indianapolis next week.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on the Far Northside is bringing Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea” to town Monday.

Carmel resident and St. Luke’s member Nancy Jarosinski is co-chairing the evening event with Geist area resident Lynn Jackson.

“I read the book a couple of years ago, and I was very inspired to give back, but I wanted to do more than write a $100 check,” Jarosinski said. “Our minister gave a sermon about living simply so others can simply live.”

Jarosinski worked with church leaders to bring Mortenson to St. Luke’s for a fundraiser.

Profits will go to Mortenson’s nonprofit Central Asia Institute, which promotes community-based education and literacy programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Awaken.

The 2,500 free tickets have already been given out, but the effort has since grown into an interfaith community event that has drawn in at least 60 schools, most from the Indianapolis area. Mortenson’s message isn’t about religion, it’s about tolerance and giving back, Jarosinski said.

Many area schools have participated in the fundraiser by collecting spare change in a program called Pennies for Peace.

He will speak to students from several Indianapolis-area schools at Shortridge Law and Public Policy Magnet High School during the day.

Although there is limited seating, thousands of kids from about 60 schools will watch his presentation via live video feed.

Students and staff at Crooked Creek Elementary in Washington Township have a long history of giving back and international studies, said Principal Kim Piper.

Because the book is for all audiences in three forms — as a picture book, young readers and adult versions — the entire school studied and did school lessons from economics to community service, Piper said. All district schools are collecting pennies.

Crooked Creek’s 17 school ambassadors will go to Shortridge, and other students will tune into the live feed, Piper said.

“I think the kids will be clued in and want to do more,” Piper said. “They’ve heard the story, they’ll hear him speak. It will be empowering to them to recognize they can make a difference.”

A total of 200 Washington Township students are going, and the rest of the district has been encouraged to tune in, said Marsha Reynolds, director of elementary education, who added that the lessons fit in with the district’s International Baccalaureate curriculum.

All students at Zionsville and Zionsville West middle schools will watch the live feed, said Carrie Sanders, West Middle School librarian. Sanders got a grant from the Zionsville Education Foundation to purchase 1,400 books for students at both schools. Then she found out St. Luke’s was bringing Mortenson to Indianapolis and connected with them.

When Mortenson visits, the seventh- and eighth-graders will have finished their studies, and the fifth- and sixth-graders will be ready to start theirs.

“I was so moved by it, the service learning aspect,” Sanders said. “It shows what one person can do in the lives of others. It promotes academic excellence and shows how one person can affect the lives of millions.”

Students also started a Pennies for Peace drive Sept. 16. Other school activities include industrial arts classes building a bridge and talking about the symbolism, a Middle Eastern lunch and a tea after school in October with local residents from Afghanistan and Pakistan in October.

http://www.indystar.com/article/20100923/LOCAL1802/9230410/Greg-Mortenson-to-speak-at-St-Luke-s-church

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