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

A Christmas Letter: Messages from a Life in Translation

To my family in Singapore Firstly, to my sister who celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day, because the celebrations are often conflated and lessened when they ought to be separate like it is for other people whose birthdays are far from Christmas - I wish you first a very Happy ...
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/ Christmas, Family, General, identity, Story

Life is a 9 layered cake

Image by Lydia Bauman from Pixabay The cake I have in mind is steamed, not baked; made with tapioca and rice flour; and is a sweet treat that is part of the rich food tapestry of Peranakan culture in Singapore and Malaysia (see also the thorough Wikipedia entry). This is ...
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Migrants: Money or multiculturalism, cash or culture, productivity or people?

I have been, and continue to be, troubled by how (im)migrants are portrayed by the media, and by extension, viewed by readers of media, and one could argue, on the basis of how society has made up its mind on the topic. To put it crudely, migrants are valued more ...
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Travelling between darkness and light: Reflections on lockdown

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash In the past two months, my world was shaken, stirred, and has only begun to settle. My professional world was squished into a corner of a room with the strongest wifi signal. The physical structures and rhythms of office life were exchanged for self-managing ...
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