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  • Shira Cohen and Julia Hajibay-Piranesi

Yale Model Congress

Interested in getting your point across? If so, Model Congress is the perfect opportunity for you! Placed in a committee, such as Armed Services, Judicial, or Education and the Workplace, you are tasked to write a piece of legislation, referred to as a bill, that addresses an issue in your committee. You prepare it beforehand, ensuring that you are extremely knowledgeable on the topic and can successfully argue any opposing views. At the event, you may choose to present your bill and give a speech explaining its importance. Students in your committee will then debate the bill, giving speeches in opposition or in support of your legislation. They may also suggest amendments to strengthen your bill. After what feels like hours of discussion, the bill is voted on and may either pass or fail. This is mostly determined by how well you articulate your opinions and defend your bill. This, though, is not the entirety of the experience. Other committee members will present their bills too, and you will have the opportunity to speak on them- either for or against the bill. This strengthens your public speaking skills, allowing you to speak passionately about an issue you care deeply for. Awards are given out to star delegates at the event’s conclusion.

This past week, 16 North Shore students were chosen to participate in the Yale Model Congress. Typically, students travel to New Haven, Connecticut, where Yale University is located, spend the weekend there, and debate their bills in Yale classrooms. It is a wonderful experience. This year, however, the event took place over zoom. As upsetting as this was to most students, it turned out to be a fantastic experience and a huge success! The newbies especially loved it. After tons of long after-school practices and prep, 11 out of the 16 participants passed their bills. And, those who didn’t, most definitely fought hard and gave it their all. Junior Chloe Mastour won an award for Best Legislation. We are so proud of her!

My committee was Education and the Workforce, and I presented the following bill: An Act to End the Gender Pay Gap. After several pro and con speeches, I successfully convinced my committee that this situation is a recurring issue and must be put to an end. One piece of advice I would offer is simply: introduce a bill that you are educated on and strongly passionate for. Speaking on an issue you find boring and uninteresting will cause a lack of enthusiasm and prevent you from strongly backing up your bill. Dr Allen, our amazing advisor and coach, taught us to “Fight for our bill!” We all did just that! Overall, this was an amazing and memorable experience, and I look forward to participating in the upcoming Penn Model Congress!

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