Getting to Know: World traveler celebrates diversity at WSU

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January 18, 2017

Alieu Darboe is a well-traveled man.

Born and raised in Gambia, Darboe has studied in three different countries and traveled to more than 30 others. As an operations manager at the Wayne State Student Center, he’s found a home away from home in Detroit.

In his role as night operations manager, Darboe ensures the Student Center runs smoothly. He helps coordinate events, ensure the building is properly maintained and that all businesses and student organizations in the building have what they need to operate.

“Wayne State and Detroit have a level of diversity that not many communities do,” Darboe said. “That’s probably why I’ve always felt at home here.”

The time he’s spent abroad has contributed to Darboe’s deep appreciation for cultural diversity. He loves food from traditional Indian dhabas, roots for England’s Arsenal Football Club and opens the door of the Islamic Center of Detroit every morning at 6 a.m.

“Alieu floors us every day with his perspective and experience,” said Andrea Gerber, director of the Student Center. “We celebrate our team as a true melting pot. He lives the value of diversity day in and day out.”

Darboe takes it upon himself to include detailed information about cultural holidays, celebrations and news in messages to his team.

“Differences are a reality of life – they should be embraced and respected,” Darboe said. “These differences make us all richer and better.”

Darboe, who came to Wayne State as a graduate student studying educational leadership in 2008, is currently pursuing a doctorate in peace and conflict studies. He also holds a master’s in international development and a bachelor’s in English from Saint Mary’s University in Canada.

No matter where it’s located, Darboe gives back to his community. He serves as a board member for the Islamic Center, volunteers with the Neighborhood Service Organization and Detroit Rescue Mission, and remains active in Gambian politics.

“There’s a saying in my language: ‘Those who are sitting are just debating. When you go, you either take something or bring something.’ Movement is good,” Darboe said.