What is a First Person American?
Welcome to First Person American Beta site. First Person American is an initiative that aims to change the public's perception of immigrants and to interject a new voice through deep and poignant portraits of people who immigrate to America. Our mission is to have a transformative effect on individual immigrant and non-immigrant lives and communities.
The name "First Person American" is a nod to the narrative mode of each video—each participant speaking of how living in the US influenced his or her "American" identity. The mission is to create a communal experience of America’s diversity.
Why This Matters
Accoding to the Center of Immigration Studies, there are nearly 40 million immigrants living in the United States—13% of the total population. Last year alone one million immigrants took the Oath and became American citizens.
Virtually all American-born citizens have ancestors who came to this country from abroad. Do you have to be born here to count as a true American? First Person American explores this question through an intimate look at the lives of people who immigrate to America.
Promotional Video: What's Your Story?
About The Founder
First Person American was founded in 2010 by Irina Lee. As the Founder and Executive Director of First Person American, Irina creates social impact through filmmaking and storytelling workshops, public screenings and large scale events in partnership with major institutions such as the Ellis Island Foundation, New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, The New York Public Library, Facing History and Ourselves, Queens Museum of Art, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and many others. She has won grants from Sappi Ideas that Matter, Adobe Foundation Design Ignites Change, Citizens Committee for New York City, and Facing History and Ourselves.
As an immigrant who grew up with the duality of becoming American while maintaining her own cultural identity, Irina created First Person American to allow other immigrants to refect on their process and degree of assimilation, helping them bridge the division between old and new cultures. First Person American stems from her passion and commitment to design for social innovation, activism and investigating change. Irina holds a Master of Fine Art from the Designer as Entrepreneur program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art from the University of Maryland College Park.