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Kikukawa Participates in Institute Dedication

Edward M Kennedy Institute News Release

On March 30, college students and current and former Senators from around the country participated in the Senate Chamber Dedication Ceremony as part of the Public Dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on Columbia Point in Boston. Michael Kikukawa from Kaunakakai, a current student at Harvard University, represented Hawaii at the event. The students were selected on the merit of essays submitted on the topic of public service.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. The Institute will be a dynamic center of learning and engagement that uses innovative technology to provide each visitor with an information-rich, personalized experience that will bring important historical and current debates to life.

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the ceremony in the Institute’s Senate Chamber – a full-scale representation of the Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol. During the ceremony, former and current U.S. Senators from across the country were paired together with a student from their home state. Senators were recognized for their service as they electronically “signed their desks” in the Senate Chamber. Vice President Biden concluded with a call to leadership that seeks to inspire the next generation of citizens amid leaders past and present. Current and former U.S. Senators joined the winning students.

The Institute will teach students in an engaging, dynamic and empowering way about our system of government, the Senate’s unique role in the nation’s history and the work of those who have devoted their careers to public service. Its centerpiece is the Institute’s Senate Chamber, where students can use technology to enhance an active learning process in which they take on the simulated role of Senators.

Students can sit at exact models of the desks used by U.S. Senators and try their own hands at legislating. They will use modules developed by leading educational software and video game designers, with input from local high school and middle school teachers and university educators. Students will have the opportunity to participate in simulations, re-enacting historic debates like the Compromise of 1850 or working together to pass immigration reform. They will learn about issues, cut deals, pass laws and come away with a deeper understanding of our democracy and their role in strengthening it.

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