Dear Delegates, Faculty, and Affiliates,
Welcome to Harvard Model Congress San Francisco 2021! On behalf of our Executive Board and staff, I want to thank you for joining us for our 21st conference.
Since its founding in 2001, HMCSF has brought countless high school students from across the United States and from around the world to our conference. While we come from different places and backgrounds, we all share a passion for government, democracy, and civic engagement.
This year, our conference looks quite different. For the first time in HMCSF’s history, we will host our conference virtually — rather than gather together in San Francisco, we will debate, engage, and learn over digital platforms. For you, we know, and for us, this is, in many ways, disappointing. There is so much magic in coming together in-person, as we normally do, to consider relevant issues facing the U.S. government and nation today.
And yet, as I reflect on our conference this year, I can’t help but think that the circumstances that the United States faces today mean that now, more than ever, it’s so important that young people work together to envision new ways to affect positive political and social change. This was the inspiration for this year’s conference theme: “Building Tomorrow’s Leaders.” COVID-19 has both created and exposed so many important problems in our nation’s fabric, and over the past year, we’ve seen young people — everyday citizens — answer the call for action, by organizing movements for Black lives, by building coalitions to push for climate action, and by turning out to vote in record numbers. This is what American politics is about: the ability of everyday American citizens to make a positive change in their community through activism and engagement. And so, we hope, as you are debating policy this weekend, albeit virtually, you recognize the power of your engagement. We also hope you’ll consider how you can get involved in politics right now and for the rest of your lives, whether that is through a career in politics and public service, volunteering in a local election, or simply voting and getting involved.
Our virtual format has also allowed us to bring new, exciting programming to all of you, and to make our conference more accessible. For the first time ever, nearly half of all students attending HMCSF are doing so at no personal cost. We’re thrilled to welcome all of you — whether you’re HMCSF veterans, or first-time attendees — to our HMCSF family.
This weekend, I urge you to think not only about the skills you learn and the policy you debate — but also the people that can be affected by decisions in Congress. It is only when we approach policy with that mentality that the United States government can truly be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
President, Harvard Model Congress San Francisco 2021