Not many students get the opportunity to go to a presidential inauguration while in school, but University of Minnesota student Takehito Kamata was lucky enough to have that opportunity.
Kamata, a doctoral candidate from Japan, is studying higher education here at the University and was able to go to Washington, D.C., because he’s a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, a group that gives students with high academic success networking opportunities around the world.
As an international student, Kamata said he had a unique perspective on American politics.
He visited the nation’s capital for five days to witness the presidential inauguration as well as dip his toes into American politics. Kamata said that in Japan, citizens are not as involved in politics as Americans are, so it was a learning experience for him.
“I think the cultural foundation of the United States is ‘Never stop fighting for democracy, diversity and freedom,’ and I really respect these cultural foundations,” Kamata said. “The public was very enthusiastic in selecting leaders in the United States, and I am so amazed by the American passion … in politics.”
The goal of students visiting D.C. isn’t just about being in the capital for the inauguration but networking and exploring politics and the presidency.
During the excursion, students participated in a panel discussion with Mary Matalin and James Carville and listened to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. They also had early morning private access to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and viewed the public inauguration ceremony.
“This is the final stage of the U.S. presidential leadership selection process, and I was so glad to see the inaugural address with people from different backgrounds and locations domestically and internationally,” Kamata said.
After Kamata receives his degree, he plans on working at an embassy. He said that his inauguration experience helps him and other leaders understand American politics and leadership.
“Spending time with the participating scholars, leading decision makers, political experts and public officials from different academic and professional backgrounds will enable me to understand and reconsider the leadership philosophy at the individual, local, state and national levels,” he said.