Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson, co-author of the best-selling book, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time," will speak at Virginia Tech on Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. in Burruss Auditorium. He will speak on “Pennies, Pencils, and Peace.”

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets must be obtained at the ticket office in Squires Student Center beginning today. There is a two ticket limit per person. People wishing to attend from outside the area can send an e-mail to Leah Wickham to reserve two tickets.

The event is being organized by the new Students for Non-Violence Club, the International Relations Organization, and the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships at Virginia Tech.

Mortenson is the co-founder and executive director of the Central Asia Institute (CAI), which promotes and supports community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As of 2008, the CAI has established 78 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which educate more than 28,000 students. The CAI’s community projects are focused primarily in remote, underserved regions of the world.

Inspired by his global efforts to foster peace through education, student leaders at Virginia Tech conceived the idea to invite Mortenson to campus to speak.

Megan Mirmelstein, of Virginia Beach, Va., a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, president of the International Relations Organization at Virginia Tech, and member of Leadership Tech, wrote a heartfelt letter to Mortenson asking him to come and speak to help lift up the spirits of people affected by the April 16 tragedy.

“I thought bringing Greg here would be a way to truly honor the memory of my friends who passed away on April 16,” said Mirmelstein, “and to show the Virginia Tech community what an impact serving others can have. I am so grateful that Greg is coming; it will be a memory that will last me a lifetime.”

Kristina Heeger-Anderson, of Vienna, Va., a senior majoring in international studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and John Welch, of Arlington, Va., a senior majoring in international studies and French in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, both leaders of the Students for Non-Violence Club, have also played a key role in this effort to bring Mortenson to Virginia Tech.

“The chance to hear Mr. Mortenson's message of peace-building is an exciting one for Virginia Tech,” said Heeger Anderson.” We have a lot to learn from a humanitarian that created new dialogue for action and education.”

“I think it's important that as we reflect on the tragedy of April 16, we choose to lend support to international communities that experience tragedy daily,” added Welch. “We understand now the importance of hope and compassion and service to our community, locally and globally, so I'm proud that we have taken on this initiative together and are making such an impact.”

The event is sponsored by CSECP; the Department of English; University Unions and Student Activities; International Relations Organization; Office for Equity and Inclusion; the Office of International Research, Education, and Development; and the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. Additional event co-sponsors include: the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, Students for Nonviolence Club, Koshka Foundation, Outreach Program Development, Women’s Center, Women’s and Gender Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention. Individual supporters include: Ennis McCrery, Jeri Childers, Jim and Robyn Dubinsky, and Miriam Rich.

For more information about the event, contact Karen Gilbert at (540) 231-0691. Additional information about Greg Mortenson and CAI can be found online.