Written by
Christine Shin '25 and Isabella Gomes '25, Student Correspondents
April 14, 2022

During spring recess, a handful of Princeton University students participated in Breakout Princeton where they spent five days in New York City connecting with community organizations to explore the theme of Recipes for Human Rights: Refugee Experiences, Restaurants, and Resettlement. 

Sophomore Magdely Diaz de Leon, a trip leader, explained that "this trip revolved around exploring resettlement, forced migrations and refugees through the lens of food." Through Zoom meetings, dinner chats, and tours, Breakout Princeton participants interacted with advocacy organizations, restaurants, local activists, and community members, to take in a variety of perspectives on the complex questions around forced migration, our responsibility around human rights, and what the refugee experience is in the U.S. The group visited nonprofits focused on refugee employment, food waste reduction, and other aspects.

Princeton University student Gil Joseph holds a brown chicken.

Breakout Princeton participant Gil Joseph holds a chicken. Photo by: Geralyn Williams

One of these nonprofits was Emma’s Torch, which provides top-notch culinary training to refugees and helps them find meaningful careers in the food industry. There they met Kerry Brodie, founder of Emma’s Torch and a Princeton alumna, who led them on a visit to their training center and shared about the inner workings of the nonprofit. Aside from learning about the logistical work of nonprofits, the participants also learned ways to support community organizations in the long-term. At the end of each day, they engaged in reflection sessions, which were an opportunity to discuss what they had observed and learned from the day. 

When asked about significant moments from the week, participants mentioned varying aspects of the trip. One participant, first-year student Adriana Alvarado, stated that meeting a founder of a nonprofit helped her take into account the importance of logistics, economics, and policy in community service. Another first-year participant, Gil Joseph, said that this trip reinforced his interest in sociology, as he gained insight into different ways to carry out community service and insider information in the nonprofit sector. Trip leader Leon, mentioned the great dinner at Emma’s Torch and appreciated the opportunity to connect with other students while also highlighting the importance of "being in a place where you know work is happening.” 

Breakout Princeton offers a unique opportunity to directly learn from people who are working on the front lines of community service. By making connections with community leaders, participants become more conscious of specific needs that should be addressed in local communities, all while bonding and reflecting with fellow Princeton students. As sophomore participant Ben Cai, remarked “it’s a great way to meet people who you otherwise wouldn’t have met because they’re in different majors and different clubs.” 

Overall, participants enjoyed the trip and had the opportunity to make new friends, learn about the theme of refugees and resettlement through the lens of food, and explore the city. 

Princeton University students and staff stand in front of a row of boxes indoors.

Breakout Princeton trip participants meet with Dr. Melony Samuels, Founder of Campaign Against Hunger (at center).