Grennan, author of Little Princes, visits St. Bonaventure University
Conor Grennan, author of Little Princes: One Man’s Journey
to Find the Lost Children of Nepal, visited St. Bonaventure’s
campus Monday to deliver a speech to the class of 2015 and others.
Princes tells the story of Grennan’s first experience with
the children at the Little Princes orphanage in Nepal. Before long,
he makes a horrifying discovery: These children are not orphans.
Child traffickers fooled families into turning over their children,
who were then sold.
That discovery leads Grennan to another realization: He has a responsibility
to these children. He embarks on a journey to return the lost children
to their parents. He endures civil war, Maoist leaders, limited
food and the treacherous mountains of Nepal to bring them home.
and his organization, Next Generation Nepal, have, to date, returned
250 trafficked, abused and malnourished children to their homes.
But he won’t brag about it.
“My favorite thing about Conor’s story was that it was
so down-to-earth and honest,” said Abby Cohen, assistant director
of the First-Year Experience program. “He doesn’t see
himself as a hero, just someone who discovered his passion and chased
Koty Mann, freshman theology major from Buffalo, N.Y., agreed with
said he loved that Grennan felt a calling that inspired him to act.
attitude was, ‘They needed help. I want to help them,’”
felt especially connected to Grennan’s story.
volunteered in Nicaragua twice with my youth group,” he said.
“It was sort of eerie how similar our experiences with children
were.” Mann volunteered at a child care center called Mustard
Seed Community as recently as this past August.
said he, like Grennan, learned a lot in his faith journey while
couldn’t understand how anyone could be so happy while being
so poor,” he said. “But these people knew their faith
and their family, and they loved without hesitation.”
was one of the 13 winning essayists from the summer reading assignment.
Another winner, Patricia Rosetti, a freshman undeclared arts major
from Dryden, N.Y., said reading the stories of malnourished and
neglected children hit home. Rosetti said she remembered the day
her little sister came home.
According to Rosetti, her parents adopted Katie Ella from Russia
when Katie was nine months old. Rosetti, age three at the time,
felt instant sorrow and love for her baby sister who had before
been uncared for and hungry.
“Just like Conor with the children in the hospital, if my
parents hadn’t adopted her, she probably wouldn’t have
survived,” she said.
Katie is now a healthy and happy 16-year-old who tells people she’s
special because she was adopted, Rosetti said.
She also connected with Grennan on an academic level.
“I liked how he said you don’t have to know what you’re
doing with your life just yet,” she said. “He had a
hard time in college, but he stumbled upon his calling and encouraged
us to do the same.”
Other students also felt Grennan’s speech was honest, lighthearted,
and funny but moving. He told his own amazing story, while making
the students laugh and feel comfortable around him. So how did all
of this come about? The All Bonaventure Reads committee, made up
of students, faculty and staff, chose Little Princes this spring.
“We were looking for a topic that would hit home and something
college freshmen could relate to,” said Cohen.
Cohen explained the book fell into their laps.
Casey (FYE director) received a copy in the mail and decided to
bring it in for the committee’s consideration,” she
said. Cohen said the committee members liked the cover of the book,
and once they started reading it, could not put it down. Prior to
the selection of the book, Casey and Cohen attended a national first-year
experience conference in Atlanta, Ga. There, they heard Grennan
speak, and knew his style would appeal to freshmen.
“I think the best way to reach the students is to be honest
and transparent,” Grennan said, followed by a short explanation
that the reason he decided to volunteer in the first place was to
impress women at bars.
Grennan admitted that he has regrets about his time in school, but
said he ended up discovering his passion along the way.
“Every choice I made, I wanted to be able to look back and
be proud of,” he said.
Little Princes is now translated into 11 different languages. A
portion of the proceeds go directly to Next Generation Nepal.
Grennan and his wife, Liz, have a 2-year-old son named Finn and
a 5-month-old daughter named Lucy. Grennan said he thinks about
his own children often when helping to rescue children in Nepal.
“I want people to take the message to heart,” Grennan
said. “They aren’t just faces—they’re real
Grennan said he knows saving every child in the world isn’t
something he is capable of doing. His mission is to save one child
at a time.
to one family, that child is the whole world,” he said.
Class of 2013
out who all the essay winners are and read their essays!
more photos of Grennan's visit!