Contemporary Issues: Models for Congress

Contemporary Issues class takes trip to Washington D.C. for Princeton Model  Congress

By: Joyce Lin

When the phrase “field trip” is mentioned, most would think of going to a museum, watching a play, or just a close visit to a historical location.
Last month, 12 Contemporary Issues students, along with teacher Rose Ann Hardy, took the midnight train to Washington D.C. for five days to attend Princeton Model Congress.

Model Congress is a realistic simulation of the United States government, with a presidential election, cabinet appointments, Supreme Court deliberations, Senate, House of Representatives, unexpected crises, and debates within delegates’ assigned committees over potential legislation.
Prior to the conference, the students spent weeks creating and debating their own bills to introduce in their assigned committees.
“It provided us with a really good opportunity to participate in the process of effecting change in a way that allowed us to reflect our own ideal visions of our country and our government,” said senior Conrad French.
“For instance, my bill, focusing on the introduction of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and my work in the executive branch was centered on mitigating the acceleration and impacts of climate change, an issue that has largely been neglected by the current administration. So through this process, I had the chance to create the change that I’d like to see in the present-day United States,” said  French.
Senior Colleen Keller, an experienced delegate, wrote a bill reforming child labor laws, which passed in the mock-Judiciary committee.
“I enjoyed the experience and I felt that it was able to relay to us [delegates] what it would really be like in Congress,” said Keller. “The trip including the touring was eye-opening, especially meeting our representative Joe Courtney right before he went to vote on a bill that could change lives around the country. It is inspiring to think that one day that could be one of my classmates.”
Newcomers, such as senior Kevin Hricko, passed a bill on labeling GMOs, while French acted as the Secretary of Energy of the President’s  Cabinet.
“I thought it was a very unique and interesting experience. It was a great chance to be able to get a glimpse of how our government actually works,” said  Hricko.
In general, there were over 1000 delegates from a variety of states in attendance, ranging from California to New York.
Besides the conference, the class’ itinerary consisted of touring the East Wing of the White House, sitting down with Representative Joe Courtney, exploring many historic monuments, watching a political comedy show, and even sitting in on a real session of the House of Representatives.
“It was really fun and Ms. Hardy did a fantastic job making sure that we got to see what was important and not just typical tourist spots,” said senior Victoria Chen. “My favorite activity was watching the political comedy show, Capitol Steps. Performers dressed up as political figures and gave different skits on the state of our world. It was good to be able to laugh about that stuff.”

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