Sherrie Lee is The Diasporic Academic

I seek to understand the dynamics of mobility and transition in cross-border contexts such as international education and migration by examining the exchange of language, culture & knowledge. I am interested in building collaborative networks among emerging academics, as well as connecting research with professional practice and policy. You can read my story about becoming a diasporic academic, and find out more about my research on ResearchGate.


I am an independent academic currently based in New Zealand. My research and personal goals converge in the desire to empower newcomers to navigate transitions in their social and cultural environments. My research is concerned with multicultural and transnational communities, and utilizes sociocultural theories and multimodal analytical approaches. I thrive in collaborative environments where I am able to connect researchers across disciplines, and demonstrate how research can enrich various real life domains. I am inspired and guided by the indigenous Māori concept of manaakitanga or having the moral commitment towards building relationships on mutual trust and respect.

Originally from Singapore, I completed my doctoral study at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. My PhD integrated theoretical frameworks in novel ways to understand informal academic learning practices of international students, resulting in a robust theory of brokering. Prior to doctoral studies, I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching (TESOL) at the University of Southern California, and did a narrative case study on the identity of a minority English language learner. I hold a Bachelor of Arts from the National University of Singapore where I majored in English Language and Literature.

A CELTA trained teacher, I was formerly a business communications lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, and an English teacher in China. I have worked at the Singapore Mediation Centre as a conflict management trainer for business professionals and government representatives. In the early part of my career, I worked in corporate communications in the IT and creative sectors.

I have published widely in a range of disciplines, and won an ISANA International Education Association award for my paper “Seeking Academic Help: A Case Study of Peer Brokering Interactionspublished in 2018 by Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. I have convened symposia on topics related to international education, and am the convenor for a national symposium on the international student experience in New Zealand. I am on the editorial board of Journal of International Students, and a conference abstract reviewer for NZARE, the New Zealand Association of Research in Education.

I am active in advocacy for international students, especially postgraduate students. I am a past president of, and current mentor to, the Postgraduate Students’ Association at the University of Waikato. I also serve as the secretary of ISANA International Education Association New Zealand, an association for professionals who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education. I am also a regional representative for the International Students and Study Abroad SIG of CIES (Comparative and International Education Society).

My future research goals are to promote culturally-relevant approaches in international education, and enhance emerging academics’ capabilities in transnational contexts. Using my research and professional networks, I envision myself as a broker who facilitates collaborative dialogue between academics and practitioners across cognate disciplines.

Recent blog posts

Nine at 35

With a renewed passion for creative writing, I’m embarking on a personal project to create folios of work – a ‘folio series’ of poems and essays – forgotten, refreshed and new creations. Mobile-friendly view "Nine at 35" is a short collection of poems that were written to mark my 35th ...
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Don’t call me Migrant or Asian but who do you say I am?

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay Despite what feels like a ‘long’ time, I’m really still a newcomer to Aotearoa New Zealand. And considering more than 4 of the 5 plus years were spent in Hamilton, and having recently relocated to Wellington, the Aotearoa I know is just an emerging ...
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Belonging, longing to be

If there is a theme for my 2019 work life, it would be transition. And not just moving from one job to another, but from one city to another, from one work culture to another. Through these transitions, I have journalled my responses to having (and not having) a sense ...
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Living and thriving with labels: A journey towards cultural intelligence

5 years ago, I took a leap of faith to start a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand. I had a vision of being part of a uniquely multicultural society - one which honours its indigenous culture and heritage, and offers hospitality and friendship to others from different backgrounds. It ...
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