The Central College Intersections council and student activities office have named “Little Princes,” Conor Grennan’s 2011 memoir of his volunteer efforts in Nepal, the common reading book for the summer of 2012.
All incoming freshman are assigned to read the book before fall classes begin, and it will be used during instruction in Intersections, Central’s required first-year course. Intersections asks students to study human nature through various perspectives.
“The common reading is a way to give students a shared academic experience they can use to connect with faculty and other students,” said Peggy Fitch, Intersections director.
Each year the common reading book is selected by a committee including both faculty and students. Books are chosen based on how well they apply to the themes presented in Intersections.
“The committee was predominantly blown away by the story presented in this book,” said Jill Batten, student activities director. “It is an exceptional fit with the themes students will explore in their Intersections classes.”
“Little Princes” retells Grennan’s decision to travel the world in 2004 and his subsequent discovery of rampant child trafficking while volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal. The memoir tracks the author’s initial reluctance to involve himself in a country struggling through civil war and his eventual steadfast resolve to aid the children.
Prior to Grennan’s arrival in Nepal, child trafficking had become commonplace in the war-torn country. Traffickers promised parents in remote villages to protect their children by taking them away from fighting. After collecting a fee from the parents, traffickers abandoned children in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. Discovering the children at the orphanage still had families, Grennan set out to reunite them.
“There are metaphors for identity weaved throughout the story, along with messages about expecting the unexpected,” said Batten. “We hope students will find these inspiring and encouraging during a year they’re facing significant changes.”
Grennan will visit Central’s campus Sept. 13. He will host a convocation for students and will be featured at Geisler Library’s Writers Reading series, among other engagements.
“It’s been our practice for the common read author to visit campus when possible,” said Fitch. “It makes the book and the message more relevant to students. They’re able to ask questions they could not otherwise.”
Before embarking on the travel that took him to Nepal in 2004, Grennan worked for eight years at the EastWest Institute in Prague, Czech Republic, and Brussels, Belgium. There he worked on peace, community development and anti-trafficking policy in the European Union and former Yugoslavia. After the experiences documented in “Little Princes,” Grennan founded Next Generation Nepal, an organization aimed at reuniting trafficked children with their families.
In the fall, Central will host its annual community teach-in in connection with the common reading book. The two-day teach-in features classes and workshops in which the public is invited to join Central students to discuss issues presented in “Little Princes.” Dates and the schedule of events will be announced in the fall.