Harvard Model Congress educates, provides experiences


Every February, Marian sends a group of students to Boston, Mass. to attend Harvard Model Congress (HMC). On Feb. 22-26, 13 Marian girls journeyed to HMC. English/social studies teacher Ms. Susie Sisson and social studies teacher Mrs. Jillian Roger chaperoned the trip and helped the girls prepare. The purpose of this trip was to simulate Congress and teach high schoolers the responsibilities and processes of Congress as they fulfilled assigned roles. 

Juniors Riya Kumar, Betsy Piernicky and Lily Biggs pose with Shruthi Kumar ’20 at Harvard University. Shruthi, a current Harvard student, led a tour of the University while students were in Boston for Harvard Model Congress. 
Photo courtesy of Ms. Susie Sisson. 

Students chose what committees they were most interested in and then were assigned one from their top five choices. Each committee was led by a current Harvard University student who started the discussions and debates and kept the committee organized.

Each student who attended HMC was expected to read assigned briefings and then propose policies they believed would help that country or situation. Harvard Model Congress is designed to run exactly as Congress to make the experience even more beneficial for students. Every student had the chance to present for their committee and practice working with other students to make compromises.

Those interested in HMC applied in September and submitted a $300 deposit before paying the full $1,200. The participants began preparation in January when they were assigned their topics and roles. They were given briefings to read and proposals to write. 

Junior Lily Biggs was assigned to represent Ireland in the United Nations committee. To prepare for her role, she watched YouTube videos about her topic and read several articles about the role of Ireland in the United Nations throughout history. Biggs said she “learned a lot about Ireland’s politics and history” during her preliminary research. 

Sophomore Kerenzia Amouzou participated in the House Select Committee on Intelligence. She learned about “how the United States deals with threats, whether it is a cyber threat or terrorist threat.” She read and annotated documents that outline the protocol on how the United States deals with threats and learned how the House Select Committee on Intelligence works as a group to efficiently complete tasks regarding the safety of the nation.

The four days students attended in session were action packed. They spent the majority of their days with their committee and leader. Because of this, they got to know their committee extremely well. 

Biggs said, “I really enjoyed meeting new people such as students from Houston and New York City.” Students from all over the country attended the conference, giving Marian girls the opportunity to interact with many different people. 

They finished their days in the late evenings and were given the chance to eat and hang out with other students. This provided them the chance to socialize with many students from all over the country. Amouzou said she enjoyed “meeting new people and getting firsthand experience at how Congress works.”

The new city and people provided a chance for Marian girls to experience life “outside the Marian bubble,” Roger said. It was a chance for Marian students to “interact with boys since they will be interacting with them in college classes,” Roger said. 

In their free time, girls toured Harvard University and saw other sites of Boston such as the Freedom Trail. Additionally, they met up with Marian alumna Shruthi Kumar ’20. Kumar is a current junior at Harvard University. She showed the girls around campus and talked to them about her experiences at Harvard, Boston and college in general.

The experience HMC provided left students with a stronger understanding of how Congress, government, the Supreme Court and the United Nations work. 

It further prepared them for college and the process of writing, presenting and discussing with a variety of students.

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