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An Interview with Riya '24 About Harvard Model Congress

In February, 20 Ranney Upper School students traveled digitally to Harvard Model Congress, joining over 1,500 students who participated nationally. Riya Sikand ’24 received Honorable Mention recognition for her contribution to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
 
Riya shared her experience at Harvard Model Congress in a Q&A below.

How did Harvard Model Congress, which is usually an in-person event, work in a digital format? 
Although HMC was virtual for the first time, the organization did an amazing job keeping the students engaged throughout the weekend!
 
Our committee sessions took place using zoom and break-out rooms so that we could communicate and collaborate together as fellow senators. In my role as a Senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked with 30 other students to debate and come to conclusions on a variety of topics during moderated caucuses and general speaker sessions. We were also divided into break-out rooms of 10 students during unmoderated caucuses where we worked throughout the weekend to write and pass two bills. Despite being virtual this year, it truly felt as if we were real Senators discussing matters relevant to the political climate of today.
 
What did you enjoy most about the experience? 
I really enjoyed meeting and working with other students from across the country. In addition to our Senate committees, we were able to attend seminars by keynote speakers, such as a government official who had worked in the White House. HMC also organized fun events such as Jeopardy for students to participate in. Although the conference was virtual this year, we were still able to make meaningful friendships and keep in touch! 
 
What did you take away from the experience?
I gained valuable experience with public speaking, debate, and collaboration with like-minded students passionate about current and important sociopolitical issues. I was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee as a senator representing Utah and we needed to debate and pass a bill regarding gerrymandering and the death penalty. This assignment required me to investigate and study these issues before attending HMC, and the preparation gave me invaluable insight into these complex and important issues. As a result of this enriching experience, I have a better understanding of the parliamentary process.
 
What do you look forward to about participating again in the future?
Next year I look forward to the conference being in person (hopefully!) which will enable students to fully embrace the incredible experience that HMC offers. I also look forward to meeting other participants in person next year! 
 
I am so thankful to Mr. DiGiovanni and his guidance throughout the process of preparation before the conference and making sure that the students were fully engaged in their assigned roles. I am also thankful that Ranney offered this opportunity to Upper School students and look forward to many more years of representing Ranney at HMC!! 
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Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Tel. 732.542.4777

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