2014 Princeton Summer Journal Now Online!

Read the 2014 edition of The Princeton Summer Journal here. And make sure to check out the students’ group reporting project, which revealed just how little people in New York know about the Gaza conflict.

Review: A Most Wanted Man - Video Blog

By Catherina Gioino (Astoria, NY) and Justin Park (Forest Hills, NY)

Is College Really Worth It? - Video Blog

By Paige Pagan (Bronx, NY) and Razia Sultana (Brooklyn, NY)

Time of My Life

By Angela Kim (Valencia, CA)

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of PUSJP! These past 11 days have felt like a month, and I have had the time of my life.

It will definitely be weird going back home and not seeing everyone’s faces at the crack of dawn. I will miss greeting all of my dorm mates in the morning and complaining about the cold. I will also miss getting ready in the morning with everyone else and meeting in the common room. I really do think that the best conversations I’ve had have been walking from Friend to the dorms, and vice versa.

I will also miss the food even though I feel as though I’ve gained twenty pounds. Everyone here is so nice and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the campers and counselors.

I loved living in a quad because I got to know my dormies (Amna, Vanessa, and Saintra) really well and built strong, personal relationships with each of them. I was able to open up to these girls, and I really felt accepted by them as well as everyone here at PUSJP. I think my quad was the center of night life at Fisher Hall…especially when someone locked herself out and had to sleep on the windowsill.

I know that I will think about all these memories throughout senior year and for the rest of my life.

I will never forget going to New York City and doing Man on the Street in Union Square. I was so thrilled by the beauty of the city and getting to talk to the people of New York. I don’t think New York compares to Los Angeles! I hope I can return to the East someday. Nothing will ever match visiting all these wonderful places with the people I have grown to love so much.

I really wish that PUSJP was a school in and of itself so that we could continue to create fantastic memories. I did not even expect to experience everything that I did this past week: I thought that I would just learn about journalism and make a few friends along the way. Little did I know that I would also come to make great friendships.

I love PUSJP so much, and I really do not want to leave!! SJP 2014 FOREVER :)

Treasured Moments

By Marily Lopez (Los Angeles, CA)

We are on the last days of this program.

At first I thought this program would be totally different. I expected people to be stuck up and arrogant, but the reality was that it was a complete 360. Everyone was extremely nice, friendly, and affable. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of the students and treasuring many moments here at SJP.

I’ll never forget the hard work and dedication that I’ve put into this program. This was one of the first programs that I’ve ever been to. It was a new experience, which has brought me various other new experiences: going to New York, watching a live football game in the press box, tasting new foods, and speaking with complete strangers as journalistic practice.
Although I have had such a great experience at SJP, I am excited to return home. It’s a bittersweet feeling, getting to go home to my family but leaving my SJP family behind. I’m going to miss the hilarious late night talks in the bathroom and getting ready to tackle the day away. I’m going to miss eating together at Wilcox and placing too much food on my plate, over-stuffing myself at breakfast. I’m going to miss seeing everyone fall asleep during workshops and speaker presentations. But most specifically I’m going to miss the random applause and the laughter.
Goodbyes have always been difficult for me, I know that it won’t be a goodbye but a see you later.  
Never Far Away

By Najay Greenidge (Philadelphia, PA)

It always amazes me how quickly change occurs,
Like a constant flowing river of near icy cold waters.
Like the moon that changes and brings newness,
Like the winds blow in fresh air, I know things never stay the same,
But this time it’s just not fair.

I feel as though we just met and now we move away,
And we smile knowingly at our last day.
I hope we’ll keep in touch, I do because the past
I’d say those things and try it but those those things don’t seem to last.

You’re an amazing group that I will cherish a bunch
And although our time has been short, I love every second we’ve had so much.

We are never far away, just call or write,
We have to work together to keep this candle burning bright.

One day we’ll meet again, of that I am sure,
To keep the bonds alive, so great and pure.

These words alone cannot fully express what I wish to say,
But we’ll save that for the next meeting, for that one fateful day.

I love you all, for we grew together as a family,
Now, I wish you all farewell…

The End is Nigh

By Johnny Flores, Jr. (Coachella, CA)

The end is nigh and while I am certainly happy to finally come back home and finish my summer homework, there are a lot of things I will certainly miss and a lot more things I will certainly hold on to.

I’m particularly going to miss late nights with the guys (Hasani, Rashid, Najay, Diego and Eric). Those nights spent talking and laughing until it hurts are some of the best memories that I will hold on to. Never before have I met such a diverse group of people that shares the same interests that I have. Being able to talk about our aspirations, fears, and daily lives is something I’ll always remember. The comradery shared between us is unbelievable and I will most certainly miss these guys when I go back home. However, moving forward I now have a group of friends who I can turn to when I’m down and out of luck or when I need help whilst completing the college application process. Subsequently playing cards with Semaj, Tashi, and the guys was another awesome part of SJP. Staying up way past lights out and venturing all the way down to the haunted floor zero was super fun. It’s in these moments that I truly felt a part of the SJP family.

Although I may sound sad, I am excited to go back and begin the application process. Knowing that I have over a dozen counselors to turn to and three to work with, I have the assurance to complete the application process, confidence that I will be able to get into a prestigious university, and maybe one day come back and give to the next SJP class what these counselors have given me and what they will continue to give me over this next year and quite possibly years to come.

Goodbyes are never easy to say; however, we at SJP are not saying goodbye. Instead we are saying “until next time,” because we know that one day we will meet each other again perhaps here at SJP. And even before that, we will constantly be talking to each other through the various forms of communication providing support and dozens of laughs along the way.

However, we’re not leaving just yet and I’m still going to make the rest of this day and a half. Thanks SJP

Clap Fest
By Amna Nawaz (Brooklyn, NY)
I can’t believe it’s almost over. The ten days have gone by so fast. All I can say now is that when Richard said “these days go by really fast,” he wasn’t bluffing. I feel like it was just yesterday when I met Katie and Tonya at Penn Station and waved good bye to the city of New York. That day was slow. I remember eavesdropping on Razia and Cat’s conversation. It’s amazing how well they got along considering they had just met.
Out of everybody, I was most excited to meet Michelle. I wanted to meet the mysterious South Korean woman who kept spamming me with emails.  Michelle turned out to be a wonderful, hard working woman and I can’t thank her enough for all her generosity.  
Ultimately, all the counselors in this program turned out to more than just mentors. I feel as though the people I met here have become family. Debates with Richard broadened my horizons. Learning football from Greg proved to me football has its specialty. Writing the investigative piece with Marin taught me teamwork. Karaoke night with Amanda reminded me that sometimes  we all need a little fun. Watching Brian’s documentaries showed a different side of journalism. Learning law from Melisa, Rich and Adrian was different. Each of the counselors taught me what it means to be a journalist; what it means to be an idealist.
For the most part, this program was many of firsts. It was the first time I stayed away from home. First time I went to a movie theater. First time I tried Korean food. First time I drank bubble tea. First time I watched a football game, live. (The picture below depicts our failed attempts at making the letter “J.”) for Jets after their victory. First time someone told me the “SAT is not everything.” It was pretty much the first time I was told to have confidence in myself because “I have something to give to the world.” As humans, we look out for moments. We forget to realize that life is not about moments. Life is about how much we learn from the moments.
Something I will never forget is all the clapping fests we had. All of us would just clap at the slightest of things. Oh your favorite color is green, you deserve a round of applause. You prefer apple juice over orange juice, another round of applause! In a way, clapping has brought us closer together. When we clap for someone, we show them that we agree with their thoughts, with their beliefs.
Another thing I will keep with me forever is my quad: Angela, Vanessa, and Saintra. Even though at first I was upset about sharing a room, now I am glad I got to share it with these three. Each of these girls has something special in them. I love how we were able to confide and trust each other. As Vanessa once said, “What is said in the room, stays in the room.” I just hope that no matter where we are, we keep this special connection.
I’m so sad; I don’t want to leave these people. I will miss them so much. But you know what they say, “If you love something let it go, if it comes back it’s yours.”
My Second Favorite Hobby

By Sania Syed (Los Angeles, CA)

One of my favorite unique hobbies is applying henna. Many people are confused when they hear about it. We have all seen the Instagram beach photos with black colored tattoos, but that is not the henna I know and grew up with.

Many people ask me where I learned how to do it. It was a gradual process of learning that took many years to perfect and contains some of my most deep rooted and fondest memories. My first positive memory of henna was when I was about 4. Every year, Muslims have a holiday called Eid to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It is the night before that all the girls usually put on henna. Having three sisters made it an even more treasured experience for me. I will never forget my mom drawing the intricate designs and telling me to wait until they are dry. I had a lot of self-control at that age so I wouldn’t move my hand for five minutes until I was absolutely sure it is dry. I also remember going to school the next day and showing it to my teacher. Most of my classmates were deeply fascinated. This was the annual routine every time Eid came around, and one of the many aspects of my Pakistani culture fusion that I could be proud of.

Around seventh grade, I decided to start practicing on my own, copying both traditional Pakistani designs and pictures I found on the internet. So whenever people ask me where I learned how to do it, I tell them from my mom and through practice.

People are often confused by what henna actually is. To put it simply, it is a specific type of leaf that is dried, crushed, and blended into an applicable paste. This is put in a cone and squeezed out in thin lines, thus allowing intricate patterns. The paste is applied onto the hand, where it dries and can be scraped or washed off. The actual henna tattoo is the stain that is left behind. These can range in color depending on the type of henna - anything from red, orange, or brown. (Black henna can be dangerous because they add harmful chemicals.) Many years ago it was applied only on brides, but it has rapidly spread as a form of art, especially in the Western world. Watching henna move from a simple Pakistani tradition in my home to Kylie Jenner’s hands on the Kardashians in just a few years was fascinating.

Whenever someone asks about anything interesting about me, I will always tell them about henna. The photo is a henna I applied yesterday on my friend Vanessa.  

A Farewell Article

By Razia Sultana (Brooklyn, NY)

How could time pass by so quickly? How can a moment escape me? How can a laughter suddenly be a thing of the past?

It cannot; it shall not; it will not.

SJP lives on forever. The laughter will always stay in my heart. The SJP counselors and the SJPers will never escape me; they will stay in my memories and become the present as I return to SJP in the future.

My birthday surprise extended forward and became an experience of a lifetime. I remember that at the beginning of the program, many of the counselors said “SJP was a life-changing event.” I never truly understood the weight of those words until these last few days. I’ve always envisioned myself in the science field. However the more I reported, the more I wrote, and the more I contemplated, the more I realized that I really enjoy doing all of this. Writing has always been hard but never this much fun.

My biggest fear before coming to this program was that I wouldn’t be a good writer compared to others. I feared that the counselors would be unimpressed by me. But after coming going through a sleep-deprived, overloaded week, I realized that I would never feel ashamed here. 

People here really care. They do not judge your writing style. They do not judge you for not knowing editing tricks. And they don’t even look down on your word count. They do the exact opposites. They embrace your style, teach you how to edit, and cut down on your word count — and boy is cutting fun!

I know I’m going back home with enormous insights on both journalism and life itself. As we treasure these last few days of SJP, every picture, every smile, and every word written becomes part of a bigger good-bye.

But I won’t say good-bye. And I won’t end this post short either.

My favorite reporting assignment was the feature story on The Paul Robeson House renovation project. So without further ado, here it is. Enjoy — and farewell until we meet again in the near, distant, present. 


Looking through the Glass: A Window into the Robeson House

The sunlight pours in through the blue windows as Princeton residents settle into their Sunday morning service. The congregation takes their seats. The glare of the light transforms the space into an illuminated center of commemoration and observance.

The Robeson family touch is clearly vibrant.

A hundred and seventy five years of history is rooted at this old Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church. A block away, an alabaster two-story house shadows the church with the memories of the late Paul Leroy Robeson.

The house was occupied by Robeson himself from 1898 up until 1901. Thereafter, the house was used as a lodging accommodation. In 2005, The Witherspoon Church purchased the house with a mission to renovate the space into a center that honors the life and memory of this African American Renaissance man.

“Witherspoon Church has a strong history of social activism and mentoring. The house is a very important place in the African American community,” says Benjamin Colbert, a member of The Paul Robeson House Committee.

Through the rehabilitation of the house itself, the church hopes to extend its outreach activities.

“The best direction is for the house itself to survive. Over the last decade it’s been discovered as a bargain in town. We see it as a permanent memorial; a room dedicated to Paul Robeson’s memory. We envision an artist residency program. However, we do not see this as a museum,” explains Colbert.

Over the years, the Robeson house has provided immigrants as well as African Americans with housing and employment a relatively segregated community. The renovation campaign is geared towards moving forward and reminding people that the house is still here to offer the same services.

Born in the town of Princeton, Robeson was a skilled performer, a celebrated football athlete, and a fervent Civil Rights Activist. He advocated for social justice prior to the racial strife of the turbulent 1960’s. “He was way ahead of his time,” states Denyse Leslie, another member of the committee.

The Paul Robeson House Committee strongly believes that Robeson’s activism led to the achievement of freedom for African Americans across the nation. According to Colbert, Robeson faced a great deal of suppression “as a student, as an athlete, and as an entertainer.”

Robeson endeavored to carry on the legacy of his father, a former slave and later a minister at the Witherspoon Church. “Paul’s father fought constantly for the Negro,” says historian Shirley Satterfield, whose family has been a part of the church for six generations.

Satterfield vividly remembers America prior to the integration of the white and black community. She remembers the grocery stores, restaurants, and candy stores exclusively established for African Americans. “We weren’t allowed on Nassau Street. This was a segregated town. I went to a colored school.”

A line of “separation” still exists today. Stepping onto Robeson Place and walking towards the church, the stark differences in demographics and development of the area do not go unnoticed. The African American residents coupled with the immigrant community predominate the area, making Robeson’s history and impact on the town even stronger.

According to the committee members, the Robeson house is a force that reckons with the surrounding waves of gentrification. As a symbol of the difficulties faced by the surrounding neighborhood, the Robeson house upholds the roots of diversity that begin to grow even to this day. “[It is] a rich neighborhood that deserves not to be wiped away or sold away,” says Colbert.

The new apartment condos that have sprung up near Robeson Place are valued apiece at $1.5 million dollar. Often times, these new building projects are not marketed to Princeton residents but rather the outsiders. As property values rise, first, second, and even third generation African Americans can no longer afford to live in the town. With the undertaking of the Robeson House renovation campaign, the church has been addressing the issue of gentrification in the neighborhood. “We as a Church have slowed it down,” comments Leslie.

With five bedrooms and plenty of step downs, the Robeson house encompasses the intimacy of the church congregation. The church members bask in the same light emanating through the glass windows. They feel elevated by Robeson’s belief that the common people determined the character of a nation.

"We’re all in survival mode,” adds Colbert.

SJP 2014 Reflection - Video Blog

By Paige Pagan (Bronx, NY) and Vanessa Zamora (San Diego, CA)

The End is Near

By Diego Pineda (Raleigh, NC)


The end is near. Although it is hard to believe, our journey at SJP is almost over. It feels like yesterday when I entered the common area full of unfamiliar faces that I now recognize as lifelong friends. It feels like yesterday when we introduced each other and had our first dinner trying to make conversations out of the SJP application and about ourselves. It is hard to believe that I don’t miss home as much as I thought I would, and that I cannot imagine a day without the SJP class of 2014.

When I first met Hasani, Lorena, and Eric at the Newark airport, we could not keep a conversation going. I pretended to act tired, but I actually felt very awkward. When all the counselors were so excitedly telling us that we would not want to leave, I thought that it would not be possible because I was the only one from North Carolina among students from all over the country! When I entered the common room, the only person I talked to was Asia. I find it funny how in just a few days I feel as if I have known everyone all my life.

On the first day, I spoke to only a few students. Around three to four days into the program, however, I had spoken to everyone, learned their names (except how to pronounce “Jodi” or “Yared”) and where they came from. Once we all bonded and connected with each other, and some of the best SJP moments began to happen. I will never forget the talks and journalistic experiences we had. I will never forget those nights when I laughed so hard that I had to lay on the ground because I could no longer walk. I will never forget all the small things that everyone told me and made my days better. I will not forget laughing and those who were sleeping (Asia and Saintra). I will not forget the late night talks with the guys. I will not forget the students, the counselors, the directors, and Princeton.

Though this post might seem sad, I will always try to remember to smile because of our all the valuable memories. My advice for everyone is to ENJOY our last two days together and to remember to hit me up anytime and any day.

A Growing Genocide in the United States

By Paige Pagan (Bronx, NY)

Every life is valuable, beyond anything a simple number can describe. When a child is born, we don’t know if he or she will become an NFL star or a big-time doctor, but what we do know is that every person is unique and full of capability.

Yet when children are aborted, we will never find out what they might have become. The number of abortions in the United States has been on the rise. This should be recognized as a genocide, and it must be stopped.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Twenty-one percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” These women are not considering the dangers of abortion as much as they should be—both for themselves and for the potential life they are choosing to kill off.

A doctor is someone who is a qualified practitioner of medicine that works for the betterment of people. But abortion doctors are in the business of terminating lives rather than saving them. Take the case of Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three infants who were born alive during an abortion procedure. This kind of disregard for innocent life shows why abortion is so wrong.

There are people who may dispute my case. Many women have an abortion because they don’t want to obtain the resources to support a child. But with over 1.5 million American families wanting to adopt, there should be no cause for abortion. That child will be wanted by someone else who can support him or her. A baby, after all, is a precious gift that many women yearn for but can’t have.

Another common reason women have abortions is that the contraception they used didn’t work. But abortion is not a form of contraception and should never be considered it. The only completely effective form of contraception is not having sex.

One last strong argument women put up for abortion is that it’s not considered murder if it’s within the first trimester when a fetus cannot exist outside its mother. However, while a fetus may not be viable at that early stage, it is still on its way to becoming an independent life. Society in America doesn’t permit one person to intentionally harm another life, and it shouldn’t permit people to harm lives that are on their way to being independent.

Without a doubt, abortion is a mass killing of potential lives that are pointlessly taken away. These eliminated children will not get a chance to live, thrive and excel. They will never be presented with a moment to shine. These children with no names deserve to live. Take a child’s hand in love and affection not their life in injustice and termination.


A Crisis at the Border

By Jie Ying Mie (Queens, NY)

The number of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border has increased dramatically since 2011. Many are trying to escape the poverty, gangs and crime in their native countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, but many Americans still worry about the outcome of letting these children stay. Although Princeton is considered to be a liberal town, there are many different opinions about how the issue should be handled.

The children in these Central American countries often live in impoverished conditions and many are pressured into gangs. In order to escape the many horrors that they face they are willing to risk their lives to cross the border where they can be met with violence due to gangs and other dangers.

“It’s better to be in shelters than the streets,” Menna Ameen, 18, said.

The United States is known for giving billions of dollars in humanitarian aid and some residents feel the country should help the fleeing migrant children in achieving the American dream.

“Keeping them here is a humanitarian thing,” said May Ahmed, 27. “There is plenty of space for them here.”

However, some residents are not as open to the undocumented children crossing the border. Thousands of immigrants worldwide register for an American visa, but it can take years before an individual receives one. Many Princetonians feel that the children crossing the border should not be exempt.

“They’re supposed to go through a certain process. It’s not fair for other immigrants,” said Charles, 65, who declined to give his last name.

American citizens are not alone in this opinion; some immigrants agree.

Diego Zacaria, 20, an immigrant from Guatemala, said “they have a lot of opportunities here, but they should go back home to see their parents.” As unaccompanied minors, the children are more susceptible to dangers such as trafficking and murder.

Despite the strong opinions many residents have on the issue, there are others who have not kept up with the news and are not sure what the solution should be. Still, there are some like Seth, 60, who declined to provide his last name, who sympathize with the migrant children.
“Kids are heading towards the border to have a better life. I don’t have an answer. I haven’t given it a serious thought, but I’m leaning towards to letting them stay.”

Nueva York
By Saintra Thai (San Bernardino, CA)
I’m going through that phase where I still can’t believe I’m in a journalism program at Princeton University with the nation’s best and brightest students. The campus is charming and the dorms are groovy. I am positive that I gained the freshman 15 within the first few days. I really need to control myself, but there are just so many options in the cafeteria.
As much as I would like to tell myself that taking a number 2 is fine in a bathroom with six stalls and dozens of other girls, it’s really not. Which is when a travel-sized Lysol spray comes in handy.
In other news, it’s been more than half-way into the program and it’s amazing how strangers can become such close friends. Other than the sleep deprivation, it’s been exciting. Living in a quad is so much fun. I love the late night dance parties and pop song workouts.
The trip to Nueva York was definitely different for this laid-back Californian, yaaawwsss. The streets were bustling left and right with people. And in the city that never sleeps, there is no shortage of restaurants and speakeasies.
The Daily Beast, The New York Times, and New York Magazine all in one day! I was exhausted to say the least but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Never did I think I would have an opportunity like this, it’s been life-changing. At some point, I really thought that I could see myself in the newsrooms writing feature stories and op-eds next to some of the best writers in journalism.
I know that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will remember forever.