I was cruising through the middle of Stones into Schools, when page 231 stopped me in my tracks — I found the heart of She’s the First! Stones into Schools is the follow-up book to Three Cups of Tea — The New York Times bestseller about Montana mountaineer Greg Mortensen, who unexpectedly devoted his life to building schools in the most remote, conservative areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I encourage you to read the entire book, but here is an excerpt of the paragraph that completely riveted me. From my pink highlighter to your screen:
Aside from becoming a teacher, there are almost no jobs available for rural women outside the home [even if they receive a basic education - because in conservative Islamic culture, they can't interact with men outside their family or move to the city to find a job]. This, we discovered, has several consequences. First, it gives rise to a cycle of students becoming teachers who educate their own students to become teachers, and so on. Second, the first wave of educated women to emerge in a community have no role models or support network whatsoever to help them pursue higher education and eventually move into the workforce as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and a range of other professions through which women can, if they wish, build wealth and attain greater control of their lives. In short, we began to realize that not only the institutions we built, but also the people passing through them, would require intensive follow-up, broad support, and long-term commitment in order to eventually become self-sustaining. For poor people in poor countries, very little simply falls into place.”
She’s the First was created for this very reason. First, we’re helping girls get sponsors for tuition, but ultimately, we’re evolving into a support system of role models for the first wave of educated women. We’ll be able to funnel this support from “famous firsts,” and firsts like you and me, into programs for students belonging to our network, so that once they are given this access, they can aspire to reach a broader range of post-grad options.
Let me know what other books belong on the She’s the First bookshelf!