Harvard Model Congress Trip: A Fun and Memorable Experience

Virginia Jacobs, Ediror

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On February 16th, twenty-three students and I went to Boston, Massachusetts to participate in Harvard Model Congress, a United States government simulation run solely by Harvard students. The trip consisted of two days of touring the historical city of Boston followed by four days of almost constant committee sessions of Model Congress where students portrayed real members of Congress.

The entirety of the Harvard Model Congress trip was an amazing experience and I will always remember the memories with my classmates as well as the memories made in the mock Congress meetings. I would highly recommend this trip to all juniors and seniors if you are both interested in politics and want to know more about how bills are made while spending time in the historic Boston, Massachusetts.

The first day in Boston, students walked around the cold and windy historical sights around the city mainly following the Freedom Trail, a trail of bricks leading tourists to sixteen significant locations to America’s history. Of these sights the La Salle students stopped to see the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Quincy Market, the Old State House, Granary Burying Ground, the Massachusetts State House, the Boston Tea Party Museum and the JFK Museum.

Although the long day of activities was tiring and cold, my personal favorite sites to see were the JFK Museum and the Old North Church.

The JFK MuseuIMG_4572m – “a historical library and museum” – consisted of amazing collectibles, interactive experiences, archives and media galleries. The tour guide told us that the purpose of the museum is to honor the legacy of JFK instead of focusing on his assassination. In a way the museum is a memorial of his life, his time as president and what he did to change America.

After walking through the rooms with a multitude of old documents, outfits, artifacts, videos and interactive sections we were led into a reflection room overlooking the Boston Harbor to think about how you can change America for the better.IMG_9260

We then took a long walk to the Old North Church where there were dog tags placed outside the building to represent each individual who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which was an extremely touching memorial.

Inside the beautifully constructed church were pews inside ‘boxes’ that, at the time, had to be paid for in order to attend church. Each box had a placard that showed the name of the family who owned and/or sat in each box, including household names such as Paul Revere and Theodore Roosevelt.

After one more day of roaming the city of Boston conferences began with opening ceremonies, consisting of all 1,500 (approximately) students from across the country. La Salle students were part of a variety of committees including members of the media, FBI, Supreme Court, Senate, House and other special programs.

To start off the sessions everyone went into their small groups to have caucuses. My role was on a House committee on Education and the Workforce. In these small group meetings we were assigned to debate issues included in our individual topics, create official bills and/or amendments to fix these issues which then would be presented to larger groups.

The second half of these days were spent in large group caucuses where bills were explained and more amendments were made. Since I was in the house, when a bill was passed the writers of the bill would go to the Senate’s large group meeting to propose the bill to them, and when the bill was passed there it would go to the ‘President.’

IMG_9293Creating and debating on these bills and amendments was quite an experience for me because the process was so long to get a bill passed. It was eye opening to see how long and complicated the process actually is in Congress.

Along with this, the congressman I was assigned was of the opposite political party that I am so it was very interesting to see other views on issues I usually only consider one side of. This definitely made me appreciate the fact that all views of political issues have some knowledge and good intention to it. 

I was lucky enough to be a writer of one bill and one amendment during my small group meetings and would definitely recommend this trip to all students so they can understand how Congress works while also getting to see the beautiful city of Boston, Massachusetts.