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Staff Profile: Assane

Taylor Dibbert

Assane is from Senegal. He was born in Dakar, the capital, and currently resides in downtown Silver Spring.

He arrived in the U.S. in 2001. He initially lived in Connecticut and worked at the YMCA. After that, he decided to go back to school and found himself in Seattle.

At North Seattle Community College, he was most interested in studying international development.

Assane is a family man. He lives with his wife and three children. The kids are 11, 4 and 8 months old. Understandably, Assane is not getting a whole lot of sleep these days.

He misses home. Fortunately, he’s able to return to Senegal without any difficulties, though he hasn’t been back for a decade.

“I want to go [to Senegal] for good,” he tells me. He still has family in Senegal and was never planning to stay in the U.S. permanently. “I’m was going to come here and study for five years and then go,” he says.

But he’s not ready move back to his homeland. “I came here for a reason and I cannot go home without getting a degree and doing what I have to do to go back.”

He’s been working at the Co-op since November 2018. In addition to his work at the Co-op, he also works at Trader Joe’s in Silver Spring. He’s putting in plenty of hours at both places. “I work in the morning at Trader Joe’s and I come here and close,” he tells me.

He works in the Co-op’s Grocery Department. Initially, he was in Customer Service.

Assane likes the independence that’s associated with working at the Co-op. He also likes that it’s a relatively small store and a low-pressure environment. He also feels that the store is far less bureaucratic than similar places.

Assane says that the Co-op is a very friendly and rewarding environment. “Each product that we touch has a story.”

“Since I’ve been working here, I’ve been meeting good people, people who share or do things that I would like to do for the rest of my life,” he shares.

“I’ve met some people who have been working in Africa, and some [Returned] Peace Corps volunteers. I’ve met people working for USAID.”

Assane likes to read, though he doesn’t have time to do so now. He prefers to read nonfiction. “Usually when I get a book, I’ll always check to see if there’s a movie,” he remarks. “I can spend an hour or an hour and a half watching a movie.”

For his fantasy dinner party, he would invite his late father. He’d also invite two friends from Senegal who passed away this year; both died from diabetes.

He’s part of a nongovernmental organization in the U.S. called Jappalante. The organization’s mission is to support orphanages in Senegal. They are currently working on getting registered as a 501(c)(3). They did a clothing drive last year and send everything – including school supplies and diapers – back to Senegal.

Assane is ambitious and really cares about international development and working to make the world a better place. “That’s been my passion since 1996.”

Interestingly, John F. Kennedy is one of the reasons that he came to America. “I could have gone to France and finished my degree there, but I came here.”

His more specific development interests include health, education and community development. “I want to work for the people, and to help them take ownership of everything in their community,” he excitedly tells me.

In the future, he’s open to working in other places besides Senegal – as long as he’s in Africa and able to do fieldwork.