DoDEA Pacific students gain leadership experience, earn awards at Harvard Model Congress Asia 2016

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DODEA Pacific

SEOUL, South Korea — 63 DoDEA Pacific students from 13 high schools joined more than 604 of their peers from 23 foreign countries Jan. 7-10 for the 12th session of Harvard Model Congress Asia held in Seoul, South Korea.

“Harvard Model Congress-Asia (HMCA) teaches students about government and international relations during the government simulation conference which is facilitated completely by Harvard students,” said Missy Gingrich, DoDEA Pacific’s Far East Academics Coordinator. “As part of this multinational group, our 65 DoDEA Pacific students excelled and had true college and career preparation to understand the international impact of the governmental protocols of the United States. HMCA is considered a Far East event to extend the academic competition from our 13 schools to the multitude of international schools represented at this event.”

During HMC Asia, students assume roles of real-life congressional legislators, U.S. government leaders and members of major international organizations such as the European Union, World Health Organization, World Bank, etc. They are challenged to expand their own perspectives by exploring the deeper complexities of the issues at hand. The students are actively engaged throughout the conference in scenarios based on contemporary international disputes and must work together to forge solutions through diplomatic, judicial, legislative and journalistic exercises.

Facilitators from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government supported student-led domestic committees such as the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, U.S. Supreme Court, Presidential Cabinet, National Security Council, etc.

International committees included the G-15, World Trade Organizations, The European Union, World Health Organization, and International Criminal Court, among others. Students also assumed roles as professional journalists seeking to convey the important work of the committees, explore accountability and transparency issues, and report on outcomes.

“The diversity and potential for learning at this conference that included high-performing students from Pakistan to Taiwan is by far what will leave the most lasting effect on me,” said Will Soltero, Guam High School senior. “I would absolutely recommend HMCA to other students, as it is a program that brings some of the brightest and capable students that DoDEA Pacific has to offer.”

Other skill areas the delegates learned and applied during the HMC Asia conference included job creation, the fight against international crime, public speaking, negotiation, and critical thinking skills.

Dr. Ronnie Holley from Osan American High School has served as a sponsor for both the Harvard Model Congress program and the Yale Model United Nations’ program, within the U.S. and within DoDEA abroad, over the past several years says this academic enrichment program is a great benefit to students who participate.

“Over the years, I have seen student participants grow and develop into most capable, contributing members of nation's governmental systems and international organizations as a result of knowledge and skills acquired through their interaction with high-achieving students from diverse cultural, intellectual backgrounds, from a wide range of excellent, educational institutions,” said Holley. “The knowledge, skills student participants acquire are not limited to high level public speaking and resolution, white paper writing; students learn the art of compromise while maintaining a core set of beliefs and the art of socialization while adhering to set protocols of professional behavior.”

Selected delegates were recognized for their outstanding contributions to their respective committees. The following DoDEA Pacific students earned Awards of Excellence for their high performance at HMC Asia:

Kadena HS
Aanaan Shah, House Judiciary Committee
Merrill Wedekind, National Governors Association

Kubasaki HS
Madison Pagel, Deputy Head of the Office of Congressional Affairs
Dane Brennan, House Intelligence Committee
Alexander Shusko, National Governors Association
Allison Krebbs, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Kinnick HS
Ryan Posthumus, World Health Organization,

EJ King HS
Yuuta Kendall, Senate Environment and Public Works
Quinten Williams, Senate Foreign Relations

Osan American High School
Young Park, Senate Foreign Relations

Humphreys High School
Amanda Leasure, House Science, Space and Technology Committee

Guam High School
Alleria Putnam, Deputy Head of the Office of Transitional Issues, Central Intelligence Agency
Will Soltero, Secretary of State, Presidential Cabinet

Seoul American High School
Brian Lee, Senate Environment and Public Works Kyelee Fitts, Senate Foreign Relations

M.C. Perry High School
Jazell Colinarez, Deputy Head of the Office of Policy Support
Olivia Reneau, House Science, Space and Technology Committee
Lucas Holsopple, Senate Foreign Relations

“As a first time teacher-advisor to HMCA, I was so impressed with the array of tasks our students were challenged with during this conference,” said Azurdee Fernandez, Guam High School teacher. “In my years of teaching, I have not seen an academic event of this caliber, which required our students to not only think on their feet, but also be engaged with relevant issues of our time in such a rigorous way.”

About Harvard Model Congress Asia:

Harvard Model Congress Asia (HMC Asia) is a government simulation conference run entirely by Harvard students who are passionate about international relations, government, and teaching. Organized by Harvard College Model Congress Asia, a student organization at Harvard University, HMC Asia has been committed to providing an immersive educational experience for high school students from across the globe since 2004.

For more information about HMC Asia visit

About DoDEA Pacific:
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, DoD schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America’s heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific’s 48 schools serve more than 23,000 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,100 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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