by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND COUNTY--It's not what you would expect from your typical Spring Break crowd. One group of students from Princeton University traded in their sun tan oil for a different kind of oil.
"It's a set of Civic Action Spring Break trips. Ours is to Midland and Austin, Texas, investigating oil and energy across the state," trip leader and Princeton sophomore, Elizabeth Parsons, said.
Breakout Princeton is a program designed and led by students at Princeton University. The goal is to break the mold of traditional spring break trips and do something different and beneficial at the same time.
"We're trying to learn as much as we can about the role of the petroleum industry in the economy of Midland and the effect that falling petroleum prices and kind of these boom and bust cycles, the effects that those have on the lives of Midland residents," Parsons explained.
For the last few days, these spring breakers have done more than talk oil and gas. Parson says, a large part of the program is community service, "We're really trying, not only to learn about the community but also to affect it in a positive way and do as much as we can to help the people of Midland."
For Sophomore Nick Peters, this trip gave him a chance to do something a little more constructive, "I wanted to do something a little more engaging than just sitting around and drinking or something like that, so I wanted to come and learn about an issue that's affecting America."
From start to finish, Nick found he didn't know as much about the oil industry as he thought, "Even in the first 2 or 3 days that we've been here, I've learned a enormous amount of how this works. It's much more complex than I originally anticipated."
For most of the students, this trip to West Texas is something they might not be able to do on their own. Even though it was a sort of vacation, Parsons says they'll still be taking something back with them, "An unbelievable kind of insight into what life is like in a town that's really oil and gas dominated."
Peters says, they dont have any regrets, "Not at all because it's nice and warm down here and we can sit by the pool and learn a lot and still have a good time while we're doing it, so it's good."
The students from Breakout Princeton will visit Midland Mayor Wes Perry on Thursday before heading off to Austin. After that, it's back to Princeton to hit the books.