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Powerful learning, designed to enable & enlighten the 21st  century student.

What Does It Mean To Be An American?

Developed by the Mineta Legacy Project in partnership with SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education), this free educational curriculum offers six lessons for educators, high school students, and college students to examine what it means to be American.

Six Lessons on Key Issues
Immigration
Civil Liberties & Equity
Civic Engagement
Justice & Reconciliation
Leadership
U.S.–Japan
Relations
Our Mission

Educating tomorrow's leaders so they are empowered as authentically engaged Americans.

We simply want to help students maximize their potential and become engaged people who do great things. 
 

By sparking conversations about identity and history, we hope to go beyond the four walls of a classroom and teach meaningful lessons that are relevant to our lives today.

Lessons encourage class discussion and critical thought through activities that emphasize deeper thinking. Engagement is supported through video, strong imagery, and interactive components.

Discussions to encourage exchange of ideas
Close-up readings to promote deeper thinking
Interactive activities to reinforce learning

The lessons can be easily shared to an LMS, Google Classroom, or downloaded as PDF, making it seamless for teachers to access and distribute the resources they need. 

LMS

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A modern world demands modern learning.

Lessons are accessible on mobile, tablet, and desktop, so students can fit learning around their lives.

Our Lessons

Our six standards-aligned lessons provide for powerful learning that connects to students’ lives and showcase a diverse range of American voices—from young adults to former U.S. Presidents.

Browse the full lessons

Our Story

The Mineta Legacy Project & Norman Y. Mineta

The Mineta Legacy Project was created to share the life, career, and contributions of Norman Mineta — the first Japanese American from the mainland to be elected to Congress and the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet. The result: a one-hour film documentary entitled "Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story” and the "What it Means to Be An American?" educational curriculum. The story of Secretary Mineta is a relevant and timely reminder of the parallels between his experience during World War II to today’s issues.

Our Team

We are a dedicated group of filmmakers, teachers, and people who want to make a difference.

Dianne Fukami

Director/Co-Producer

Fukami has produced, directed, and written more than a half-dozen documentaries on the Asian American experience (mostly on Japanese American history) which were broadcast on PBS stations throughout the U.S. Separate Lives, Broken Dreams, about the Chinese Exclusion Act, was nominated for a national Emmy Award; Starting Over: Japanese Americans After the War has received scholarly citations for its first-person anecdotes. Her most recent award-winning documentary, Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story, has been televised nationally on PBS, opened CAAMFest in 2018, and has been screened across the country and in Japan. She has been on the faculty of Academy Art University since 2009 teaching multimedia and communication technology classes both onsite and online.

Debra Nakatomi

Co-Producer

Nakatomi is the founder of a strategic communications firm that for over 25 years has developed issue advocacy and educational campaigns on health, environmental, and social issues. The firm designs social and civic engagement campaigns utilizing the tools of media, messaging, and social media.

Nakatomi’s documentary career began as co-producer of Stories From Tohoku, with Dianne Fukami in 2014, a film about the survivors of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan. The film aired on PBS and screened throughout the U.S. and Japan.

Dr. Gary Mukai

Curriculum Director

Mukai is the director of the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) at Stanford University. Prior to joining SPICE in 1988, Mukai taught in Japan and California public schools. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University. His curricular writings include extensive work on U.S.–Japan relations and the Japanese American experience. He is the recipient of the Franklin Buchanan Prize, Association for Asian Studies (1997); the Alumni Excellence in Education Award by the Stanford Graduate School of Education (2017); and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays (2017). Mukai is also a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University, Japan.

Rylan Sekiguchi

Curriculum Designer

Sekiguchi has developed teaching materials for K–12 and community college classrooms since 2005 at the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). His publications include a dozen curriculum units, two documentary films, and several online resources. The Association for Asian Studies has twice recognized him with the Franklin Buchanan Prize (2010 and 2015)—an award given annually to an outstanding curriculum publication on Asia for any grade level. He is also the instructor of Stanford e-Hiroshima, an online course for high school students in Hiroshima Prefecture. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

Amy Watanabe

Associate Producer

Watanabe is an Account Director at Nakatomi & Associates. Her previous experience focused on civil rights, advocacy work and developing the political pipeline and leadership for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders both locally and nationally. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and minor in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also served as the Associate Producer for the film, "Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story."

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Our Sponsors

"What Does It Mean To Be An American?" is made possible with the generous support of our team of sponsors. Thank you!

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