OSWEGO, NY â€“ The Oswego Reads Committee turned the page Tuesday evening.
“Oswego Reads” was formed to create a community wide experience that can be enjoyed by all segments and all ages of our community by embracing the same book, according to Laura Ryder, the director of literacy for the Oswego City School District.
The group held its official kickoff event at the Oswego Public Library in the Community Room to celebrate the book Three Cups of Tea and prepare for the author Greg Mortenson’s visit on Oct. 28 at SUNY Oswegoâ€™s Campus Center.
Oswego Reads is a collaboration among the school district, SUNY Oswego, the Oswego Public Library, Pathfinder Bank and others, according to Bill Reilly, owner of the riverâ€™s end bookstore and committee member of Oswego Reads.
â€œGreg Mortenson is one of the most in-demand speakers in the country,â€ Reilly said. â€œIt is a real coup that we were able to enlist Greg to come to Oswego. So many organizations in town have been part of this whole process.â€
Mortensonâ€™s Oct. 28 visit to Oswego will be â€œthe single largest literary event in the history of Oswego,â€ Reilly said. â€œThatâ€™s pretty incredible.â€
Rameen Mohammadi, SUNY Oswegoâ€™s Associate Provost for Undergraduate and Special Programs, spoke on behalf of the university.
â€œEveryone can make a difference,â€ Assemblyman Will Barclay added. â€œThis is my first introduction with Oswego Reads. I am impressed about how you guys have all come together.â€
Central New York has a rich literary history and is the birthplace of Literacy Volunteers, he pointed out.
First Ward Councilor Connie Cosemento represented the mayor.
â€œI am so excited to me a very special person like Greg Mortenson,â€ she said. â€œAt the end of the book, one of the girls that was educated in his schools said, â€˜Education is as important as water, we need it to live.â€™â€
Pathfinderâ€™s senior vice president Ron Tascarella recalled working with a woman who had lost her sight.
The one thing she missed most of all was being able to sit down with a good book and read, he said she had told him.
â€œI am really thankful to be in a community that has volunteered and worked so hard to bring this event together â€“ an event that is gong to be exciting for our youth and for adults,â€ he said.
Bill Crist, school superintendent, agreed, adding that there is no better book for the Oswego Reads project than Three Cups of Tea.
It conveys an impressive message of helping others who are less fortunate, he said.
â€œThe activities that we have planned for the day that Greg arrives in our schools, will leave a mark on Oswego, and the citizens and children of Oswego who value education, who value literacy and to value and cultivate an interest of humanitarian assistance,â€ Crist said.
Mortensonâ€™s book was selected because of its message, according to Reilly.
“It’s talking about a world that’s succeeding through education as opposed to war,” he explained. “The message is let’s achieve peace.”
The book has been on the best seller list for years, he added.
Since it has been on the list, the publisher has created a picture book version and a middle reader edition as well.
“Three Cups of Tea â€“ Young Readers Edition” is aimed at grades 6-8.
“Listen To The Wind (The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea) is suitable for students in grades 1-3.
Two OHS singers, junior Danielle Faivus and senior Jessica Krauss, performed the Three Cups of Tea song for the large audience.
Oswego Reads’ aim is to not only bring the Oswego community together, but also raise awareness and encourage a world view that advocates understanding and tolerance.
The group’s website www.oswegoreads.com contains curriculum information for teachers, details on the events and more.
According to the website: Greg Mortenson is the co-author of the #1 NY Times Best Seller Three Cups of Tea: One Manâ€™s Mission to Promote Peace, One School At A Time.
It recounts the journey that led Mortenson from a failed 1993 attempt to climb Pakistanâ€™s K2, the worldâ€™s second highest mountain, to successfully establish schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
By replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading, Mortenson combines his unique background with his intimate knowledge of the developing world to promote peace with books, not bombs, and successfully bring education and hope to remote communities in central Asia. Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world – one school at a time.