This year, 26 students from the Williams School participated in the four-day model congress program in Boston. Faculty advisor and history teacher Ben Ladd shares his reflections on the experience.
During the weekend, students may role-play a Republican Senator from Nebraska or a Democratic Representative from Florida, while other students serve on the Republican National Committee, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the National Governors Association, different historical committees, and the HMC media. One of the things that impresses me about Harvard Model Congress every year is the diversity of issues that students research and debate in their committees. Some of the issues that came up this year were disposal of nuclear waste, the role of the CIA, medical care for prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the trade war with China, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and border control.
Williams students got fully involved in Harvard Model Congress. There were opportunities to caucus with other committee members, draft bills, speak in favor or against bills, and vote in the full session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
I asked students to share what they learned from participating in HMC, and these are some of the lessons and experiences that they shared with me:
“As a part of the historical committee, I took on the role of Saudi Arabia during the Suez Crisis, working to create a peaceful (or not) resolution.”—Aidan Schuler ‘20
“I worked on/signed onto a bill that promoted paid maternity leave for new mothers. This bill was passed!” -- Emi Fletcher ‘21
“We discussed China’s growing influence. I learned about the extent the Chinese government has gone to monopolize trade in the region.” -- Ozzie Alam ‘21
“I worked on a high-frequency trade bill that got passed in committee and in the House about a bill to see whether regulations should be placed after five years of research.” -- Laura Carabelaian ‘21
“I authored a bill requiring classes in computer science in public schools to prepare students for AI involvement in the workforce.” -- Kate Pickens ‘20
“I learned writing bipartisan legislation on business is hard.” -- James Denman ‘19
It’s always my hope that students are inspired by their experiences at HMC to get more involved in the political process. Our communities and nation are depending on the strength of their ideals and their commitment to public service.