Focus On Donisha Diagne: Ultimately, We’re Going to be Ok

For the last 11 years, Donisha and Alie Diagne have made Westport their home and where they’ve raised three children, Bilal 9 and Leyla 7, and Gary (2018 Staples graduate). Donisha describes the Diagnes as,  “a resilient, small, close-knit family,” for which she credits her heritage and history as well as that of Alie. Born and raised in Connecticut, Donisha’s family migrated here from the South during the Great Migration and Alie emigrated to America from Senegal. 

“There is a level of resilience that comes from our backgrounds and a level of understanding of how much energy we put forth and how we interact with others. For my family, coming up from the South in the industrial boom times and being able to build themselves up has been helpful to us in our ability to think. Not just in the present, but about the future and how we navigate from this environment with its scary levels of uncertainty. It’s about how do we continue to look toward the future, understanding where we are, and knowing ultimately, we are going to be ok. 

Most people in town know our oldest son, Gary who is 20, from the YMCA. Alie and I have had opportunities to support A Better Chance of Westport in different capacities. When you see us, we are often with our younger children Bilal and Leyla at their school or sports events. Although we have lived here for more than 10 years, we are still discovering the town. 

Juggling between work and homeschooling is the biggest change to our professional and daily lives now. Finding ourselves working from home full time – with a full house – definitely requires an adjustment. Previously, we worked from home one to two days a week based on our family needs. We find ourselves being more intentional about our daily calendars, syncing meetings, and working together to ensure one of us is available for Bilal and Leyla when the other is in meetings. We are also trying to find our new normal by sticking to a new schedule and switching to “family time” at the end of the work day. 

As a financial regulator, the content of Alie’s work has not changed as it relates to COVID- 19. However, he has joined the videoconference revolution! He uses video chat check – ins to stay connected with his team. I am a business psychologist working in HR with a focus on employee engagement, development and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although my role remains the same, the content of my role pivoted slightly to include a focus on helping employees to increase their effectiveness while working virtually and providing leaders with the tools to manage remotely. 

Gary is helpful in taking the kids outside for breaks from homeschooling and being another adult in the home. After work or homeschooling ends, we go on walks, read, listen to music, dance, and cook together. We’ve always had a lively home; however, we’ve stepped up the energy during this time. I’ve also started running again now that the gyms are closed.

Overall, the community is doing well coping with the crisis. We appreciate the daily updates from our town leaders and schools, as well as the opportunity to engage with other members in our community via social media. We are looking forward to meeting individuals we have met online in person once the crisis is over. It’s really impressive to see how the town has rallied together in support of the retail businesses, local hospitals, and first responders. We couldn’t be prouder to live in Westport at this time.

We’ve always had a lively home; however, we’ve stepped up the energy during this time.

Our greatest hope is that we will continue to work together to reduce the impact [of Corona Virus] to our town and extended communities. We also pray that a useable vaccine is discovered quickly that reduces the impact to everyone’s lives to the greatest extent possible. 

We are connecting with our friends and family frequently and making ourselves available to offer support and an ear to listen. For our community, we have reached out to our neighbors to offer grocery shopping and support, as needed. Sometimes it’s just calling to say hello.”

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To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.