Student “Politicians” Gather in Boston

Jamari and Benjamin
Jamari and Benjamin

Jamari and Benjamin at the Model Congress

On the last weekend of February, high school students from across the United States participated in Harvard Model Congress in Boston, Massachusetts. At the event, future “politicians” learned what it was like to be a member of the United States government. Attendees were assigned roles as Congressional representatives and instructed to debate about whether a proposed bill would be beneficial.

Harvard Model Congress Boston was founded in 1986. It is the largest congressional simulation conference in the world. Led by Harvard University students, the event provides high school students from across the U.S. a chance to experience what it’s like to serve in the government. Similar programs are offered in San Francisco and cities around the world.

Many students who ran the event I attended had participated in the program when they were in high school. They had enjoyed the experience so much that they were now inspired to play a role at the nonprofit organization.

Students who were assigned a political figure at the Model Congress had to respond as that politician would on such topics as education, transportation, and health care. “Acting like a politician who is from a different party and not from the political party you are personally associated with is a struggle for me,” said a student from Connecticut.



During the opening ceremony, students were able to listen to Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana. Senator Bayh gave the crowd of more than 1,000 students some valuable advice about entering the field of politics. “Try to find some common ground,” he said. “The American people are hungry for progress.”


The Harvard Model Congress

Students hard at work at this year’s Harvard Model Congress in downtown Boston

A lot of students at the conference knew little about proposing a bill, debating it, and turning it into law.

“Harvard Model Congress helped me understand how the political process works and how difficult it is to get a bill passed by Congress,” said Jamiri Young, 16, from Boston.

A favorite moment at the conference came when students got to simulate how Congress would react if a North Korean missile entered the country and deactivated our electronics.

“I enjoyed the simulation of the crisis because I felt that every single politician had to work together to help America,” said 14-year-old Jacqui Terry of Florida. 

Photos courtesy of the author