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Greg Mortenson's philosophy is based on taking the time to build relationships and deep understandings of the real needs and desires present in the communities in which he finds himself. He uses the example of "three cups of tea" to explain the need to first become acquainted on a superficial level, to next ask about and listen deeply to the answers describing local conditions and influences, and to ultimately develop plans to help the community that reflect the realities of the culture and situation in which the plans will be carried out. "One cup of tea at a time" reflects the need to move slowly, in order to allow for understanding and commitment to develop. He does not base his endeavors on political or economic structures, but upon the demonstrated wishes of the people in the community and the willingness of the locals to support, protect, and share the work during the building phase and afterward.
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