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FH students go to Nepal...sort of

Mrs. Mechele Tucker's AP Literature & Composition class with author Conor Grennan during Himalayas Week at Wingate University.

On September 11th, 2012, Mrs. Tucker’s 12th grade AP English class traveled to Wingate University to take part in Himalayas Week. The week was highlighted by author/speaker Conor Grennan, whom our class had the pleasure of meeting. We had just finished reading Grennan’s book Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, a memoir of his time spent helping the children of that country. The trip to Wingate involved an informative lecture, a traditional Nepalese meal (silverware optional), and a book signing session. 

When our class first started the book study, many of us were apprehensive about reading a nonfiction book. Many students had a tough time relating to an author who did so many amazing things in Nepal. Those, however, are the readers that Grennan was targeting with his message. Most kids and adults think that volunteering is not for them. Grennan, however, is out to prove that anyone can and should volunteer for any cause at all. “ It doesn’t matter why we do it; it’s just that we do it,” he said. His message was that the experience will change you so that you will be doing the work for more selfless reasons. By the time we had finished the book, we were able to appreciate the lessons that Conor himself learned.

Conor Grennan began his adventure as a vacation. In his late twenties, he planned to spend a year traveling around the world before he settled down for good. Many of his friends and family disapproved of this. He decided to volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal for three months to “squash any potential criticism. Who would dare begrudge me a year of fun after doing something like that?” he said. Not expecting the time there to mean much to him, he discovered he had a passion for helping the children there, who had been displaced from their families due to a civil war. He eventually created Next Generation Nepal (NGN), a non-profit organization that works to return these children to their families throughout the country.

Conor’s journey through this process was a difficult one. With very little technology or family records available in Nepal, the children’s families had to be found. Armed with photographs he had taken of the children and with the help of Nepalese guides, Conor trekked into the rugged Himalayan mountains of the country and found the families, one by one. The determination and strength it required to undertake thIs journey is nearly unimaginable.

We also had the added privilege of having a traditional Nepalese meal with the author. The meal consisted of Chatarami (a type of rice tortilla) with pork and chicken toppings served with curried vegetables. Some of us found the meal to be very delightful, while others were not quite so impressed. Jayla Cole commented, “I tried everything, reluctantly, because Mrs. Tucker insisted that I did, but I didn’t find any of it very tasty.”

With the great opportunity to learn about international experiences, our class came away with the importance of not taking everyday life for granted. Taking into account the poverty of Nepal, each student connected with the tragedies of the children related in the book. Our AP English trip to Wingate was truly a thrill and a life changing encounter for everyone.

Written by: Forest Hills High's AP Literature & Composition class
Posted: Oct 03, 2012 by Melissa Howell

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