[Model American Congress] Why Investing in Students Matters
The Model American Congress is the one outlier on ACYPL’s program calendar. It’s aimed not at political leaders aged 25-40, but rather at college students from Egypt who take part in a simulated version of our legislative branch, similar to the Model UN that’s popular in American high schools. When the students arrive, they come having spent months studying the American legislative process, and many of them are so enthralled that they see American politicians as celebrities.
The cornerstone of the MAC program is the Congressional internship: students spend a week working out of a Congressional office, helping perform vital tasks and witnessing firsthand how Capitol Hill operates on a day-to-day basis. Prior to this, they spend another week meeting with political organizations and leaders outside of government, in the hopes that they’ll develop an understanding of how the many cogs exist in the machine of American political participation.
Through these hands-on experiences, students often finish the program with a changed perception of the US, and this year’s students were no exception:
A couple of students were initial disappointed in their internship placement because they disagreed with the views of the member, only to be surprised that the experience was rewarding in ways they never expected. Osama Younis stated, “Even though I personally disagree with a lot of the Senator’s stances on different issues, I was more than excited and curious to see how matters are dealt with in his office. I even believe that this added to the value of the whole experience.”
Similarly, Eman Aboulsaad told us, “You go into things with preconceived ideas; and it’s either that these ideas are reinforced or replaced with more truthful ones.”
Another student, Muhammad Samir, shared that his fascination with the topic of women in politics was piqued in a meeting with the Boeing Company, where four female board members spoke about their work as well as about gender issues in America, and listened to the students describe the situation for women in Egypt. Of the experience, Muhammad wrote, “…We had the chance to meet four strong women…who showed great knowledge and enthusiasm for the work they do.”
These moments– challenged expectations, diverse meetings and firsthand political experiences– are why we continue to host Egyptian students every year. This year marked the 10th anniversary of this program and as we’ve consistently seen, it’s value is as clear as ever.