Testing out a Career in Politics: Harvard Model Congress 2019


Scott Nelson

Students ate at the historic Faneuil Hall during their trip into the heart of Boston.

Patrick Ales, Staff Writer

As they have done for more than 10 years, teachers Kathryn Landsea and Scott Nelson led a group of eager students on a trip to Boston to partake in Harvard Model Congress (HMC) from Feb. 20-24.

As it is referred to by its participants, HMC is a simulation of the United States Congress and other institutions within the government.

The simulation is broken up into three distinct sections: The House, The Senate, and Special Programs. Each has their own staff of Harvard students dedicated to making the experience as consistent with the real world as possible for the participants.

There are different Special Programs every year, but some do remain consistent throughout the years: Supreme and District Court and West Wing. Every individual committee has its own brief reading on the topics, with the purpose of educating students enough so that they are comfortable speaking on the issues at hand.

“I’ve done HMC for 3 years and have been on different committees and represented congresspeople from both parties, so I feel that I really got to experience all that the event has to offer and benefited from it,” senior Angelle Garcia said.

There is no prototype for the perfect member of Harvard Model Congress. It does not matter whether you want to go into politics or major in biochemistry, there is a place for everyone who wants to become involved.

The simulation offers the chance to step out of one’s comfort zone; the assignments for members of the House and Senate are random in terms of party affiliation, giving some the opportunity to view critical issues from the opposing side. Those in Special Programs are also expected to argue cases or present platforms from sides that they may not necessarily agree with, which only enhances the educational aspect of HMC.

Gables took a diverse group of students this year, many returning for the second or even third time, and some new faces looking to make a mark at Harvard. Among these new delegates were junior Alexander Sutton and sophomore Aya Hamza, who both won awards for Best Delegate in their respective committees. One of the veterans of HMC also found herself being recognized for her performance, as senior Alejandra Orozco won her second award in her three years at the simulation.

“This year I decided to do District Court with a group of 6 of my friends and found that participating in a Special Program, especially one where you are basically forced to participate, is more rewarding and exposes you to a different environment than being in Congress,” senior Max Rego said.

There is more to this trip than just the congressional simulation, however. The four-day stay in Boston allows for students to explore the city and familiarize themselves with many of its characteristic landmarks.

One night, the entire group had dinner at Faneuil Hall, site of many of Samuel Adams’ speeches since 1753 and often dubbed “The Cradle of Liberty”. This year’s trip also marked the first time that the group of nearly 30 students went to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

As evidenced by the name of the event itself, there is considerable interaction with Harvard University, including a day on campus for all the schools attending. Students are given the option to go to a wide variety of real classes and get a first-hand account of what it’s like inside the walls of one of the world’s most prestigious universities.