Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State College to Host Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Humanitarian Greg Mortenson Sept. 19, 2011


Greg Mortenson

(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College (PSC), in collaboration with communities across southeast Nebraska, today announced that the college will host a presentation by two-time Nobel Prize nominee, author, climber, activist and humanitarian Greg Mortenson at 7 p.m. in the Al Wheeler Activity Center (AWAC) Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Mortenson will follow his presentation with a book signing from 8-10 p.m.

Arrangements have also been made for Mortenson to speak with area high school students in the AWAC earlier in the day. He will make a presentation and conduct a book signing for area educators at the Durham Museum in Omaha from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20. 

Mortenson is co-founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, founder of Pennies for Peace, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea (which is mandatory reading for all U.S. military commanders and Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan)and author of the bestseller Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of 2010, Mortenson has established or supported the building of 141 schools and another five temporary refugee schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to more than 64,000 children, including 52,000 girls.

PSC President Dan Hanson said, “It is truly an honor to have Mr. Mortenson visit southeast Nebraska to share with us his incredible experiences in the Middle East. I want to personally invite everyone in southeast Nebraska to join us for his special presentation next September. We look forward to filling the AWAC to capacity (2,500).”

In order to raise funds to help build another two schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and cover Mortenson’s speaking fee, a steering committee has been mobilized that includes around 25 community leaders representing economic development leaders, librarians, educators, mayors, clergy, PSC faculty and staff, students, bankers and business people. The volunteers represent a five-county region, including Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson Counties which encompass the communities of Auburn, Brock, Brownville, Stella, Falls City, Johnson, Nebraska City, Peru, Syracuse and Tecumseh. Donations will be collected by the PSC Foundation, which has established a fund specifically for this purpose.

Steering Committee members are meeting regularly to plan fundraising activities so that enough funds are raised to help Mortensen build two new schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The group is also working to create a Southeast Nebraska Reads program featuring Mortenson’s books that could be incorporated into local K-12 school curricula prior to his visit.

Hanson said, “Planning an event of this magnitude could not occur in a vacuum. We appreciate the involvement of all of those who have devoted time to making Mr. Mortenson’s visit a reality. I especially want to thank St. Paul Lutheran Pastor Bud Christiansen of Auburn for bringing forth the idea and spearheading the effort.”

Christiansen said, “Greg Mortenson’s work has had an incredible impact on children and women in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Having a global leader of his caliber in southeast Nebraska is a unique opportunity, and I hope people from across the region will take the opportunity to come to Peru State College to learn from a man who has captivated the world with his unique style of leadership.”

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials and tribal chiefs with his tireless effort to champion education, with particular emphasis on educating females. His journey began in 1993 when he recovered in a small village called Korphe, in northeastern Pakistan, after a failed attempt to summit the second largest mountain in the world in honor of his deceased sister. It was there that he met a small group of children, sitting in the dirt practicing their school tasks in the sand with sticks. Mortenson made a promise that would change his life forever. He would build those children a school.

Mortenson’s work has not been without difficulty. In 1996, he survived an eight-day armed kidnapping by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province tribal areas, and he escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome Fatwehs from enraged Islamic mullahs, endured CIA investigations, and also received threats from fellow Americans after 9/11 for helping to educate Muslim children.

When not overseas, Mortenson, 52, lives in Montana with his wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, a clinical psychologist, and two young children.
Mortenson speaking engagement is part of PSC’s inaugural Distinguished Speaker Series. 

Hanson said, “The Distinguished Speaker Series has been developed as part of our commitment to student engagement and success. It’s also a direct response to student interest, following the visit from renowned Holocaust survivor Elane Geller last year. We want to continue to bring diverse, nationally and internationally recognized speakers to southeast Nebraska to enrich the educational experience of our students while also providing our surrounding communities an opportunity to engage in interesting and relevant topics.”

The Distinguished Speakers began this fall with a presentation by former skinhead Frank Meeink. Upcoming speakers include Civil Rights Leader and Member of the Little Rock Nine Minnijean Brown, and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi. For additional information on PSC’s Distinguished Speaker Series and Mortenson, visit and

Those who wish to make a contribution to the Greg Mortenson Fund should contact the PSC Foundation at 600 Hoyt St., P.O. Box 10, Peru, NE 68432, 402-872-2304 or