I grew up in Chicago, which has long been an immigrant-receiving city. From the get go, I have been interested in international foods, communicating across cultures and learning languages, born out through lifelong dabbling in Spanish, German, French and Italian. As a 21 year old, I ran off to Italy to find myself immersed in other immigrant communities, especially among Eritreans, Ethiopians and Egyptians who came to Rome in the late 80s. That is when I decided to learn more about what motivates emigration, settlement and return. Upon my return to Chicago in 1991, I worked for an immigrant settlement agency and lived in the Pilsen neighborhood where I used my Spanish a lot. Eventually, however, I learned about World Englishes through a fascination with brain drain and Nigerian immigration and did my PhD in English linguistics.
As a Fulbright Scholar in 2010-11, I was a visiting professor in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in Central Africa, where I learned about migration and language shift, and I studied challenges for study abroad ambitions among both English and French-speaking African students. In general, I work on understanding what migration means to young people and families, how immigration and immigrants are represented in the media, and how people find, generate and share information about migration as a lived experience of globalization. Ideationally, I look at the political economy of development by asking what does migration do for people and to people.