Diaspora communities – individuals who identify with and retain a connection to their country of birth or ancestry, but reside elsewhere (Nielsen & Riddle, 2009)—can play an important role during times of crisis their countries of origin (DEMAC, 2016; Erikson, 2014; International Organization for Migration, 2015; Loebach, 2015; Nagarajan, Smart, & Nwadiuko, 2015; Wambu, 2015). Media reports suggest diaspora communities were also active in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, as when people living in less-affected countries worked to send needed supplies to harder-hit regions. This project will use qualitative methods to analyze previously-collected data on how members of Sierra Leone’s diaspora community responded to 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The student would be trained in qualitative coding techniques for social media, interview, and archival data. At first, we will code the same materials in parallel, comparing the results. After that, the student will code independently and write analytic memos to share. S/he may also have the opportunity to collect new social media data on diaspora responses to COVID-19. This project aims to contribute to several streams of organizational scholarship, including literature on organizational resilience (van der Vegt, Essens, Wahlstrom, & George, 2015; Williams, Gruber, Sutcliffe, Shepherd, & Zhao, 2017), organizing in times of crisis (Beck & Plowman, 2014; Majchrzak, Jarvenpaa, & Hollingshead, 2007) and distributed collaboration by diaspora communities and other geographically dispersed groups (Brinkerhoff, 2009; Hinds, Neeley, & Cramton, 2014; Martins, Gilson, & Maynard, 2004).
I would not be an academic if not for the support of many mentors along the way, and I am committed to paying that forward. I never met anyone who was a professor until I started university, and I know how important it is to demystify this career and open doors for talented young people from groups that are under-represented in academia—especially BIPOC students. I’ve enjoyed advising undergraduate thesis writers and participants in a program similar to SROP at my prior institution, as well as young researchers in Sierra Leone. When mentoring students, I meet regularly with the them (virtually at the moment) to provide guidance and feedback. I try to speak openly about the challenges of graduate school and an academic career, as well as the benefits, to help students discover whether this is the right path for them—and to help them succeed.