Before Shaan penned speeches delivered at the United Nations and the Vatican, he taught courses in both English and speech at a southwest Chicago high school, serving primarily Mexican immigrant students.
He trained his students to research, prepared them to craft persuasive arguments, and encouraged them to speak up — for themselves and their communities. An immigrant himself, he taught his students that writing can be a way to make sense of this ever-changing country, and sometimes, the best way to reshape that country for the better.
Shaan is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he majored in English, and founded the university's first poetry slam (unabashedly named “Catcher in the Rhyme”). During his time on campus, he directed citywide arts festivals, led writing workshops for students in Southside Chicago, and notched spoken word titles in several of the nation’s largest poetry competitions.
Born in Singapore, Shaan was raised in Austin, Texas, and has driven through all 48 of the continental United States — trips he financed in large part at poker tables across the country. He currently lives with his fiancée in the South Bronx.