If you’ve been on committee calls or have attended some of our events this year, you’ve likely met or heard the voice of Andrew Mathew. Andrew is a recent addition to the SCN staff and works on the membership and Intercultural Unity (ICU) committees. But who is this young guy full of passion and excitement about this work? It’s time you got to know Andrew and HIS work a little better.
Andrew is a recent University of Virginia (UVA) grad who has a lot of aspiration and the natural ability to cultivate community. While Andrew was in school, he started a community of South Asian students to engage in deeper discussions that were relevant to every day college life.
“There is a big population of South Asian students at UVA, but not many opportunities to go deeper and connect on emotional levels, especially after the tragic events of August 2017 in Charlottesville. This group was formed to have a safe space to connect, share stories, and process issues we face in our everyday life,” says Andrew.
[For those who don’t know, the Charlottesville tragedy Andrew is referring to, is the “Unite the Right Rally” that ended in violence and the death of a Heather Heyer.]
A year ago, Andrew picked up a job in storytelling where the bulk of his work was interviewing people in the community who are engaged in powerful and innovative work. That assignment led him to interview Larkin Garbee (our current Interim Executive Director).
“I had met Larkin once before, and as soon as I took the job I knew she should be amongst the first people I interview. During the interview, we ended up talking about the communities we were working in. I mentioned to her that in college my biggest accomplishment was starting a community group of South Asian students. Larkin mentioned to me briefly that my work in college was the work she was engaged in, just in the professional field. I was intrigued, but my purpose to hang out with Larkin was to tell her story, so I wasn’t about to ask for a job. Turns out, she was three steps ahead of me. The next morning I got a call from her about working with SCN.”
Andrew’s work at SCN
Andrew has been engaged with the work of the Membership committee and ICU committee for the past six months.
On the Membership Committee, Andrew is working on towards the goal of recruiting and onboarding 500 members in all 50 states over the next two years. He has been working hard with the committee to define our membership criteria and benefits, and to make new recruits feel welcome and plugged in.
“I love people, I always have. I’m not so good at believing in myself, but one of my greatest gifts is quickly recognizing and affirming the potential in others. Membership was a perfect place for me to do that in a growing community, but also start to believe in myself. While I have the opportunity every day to be intentional with the awesome members of SCN, I am forced to also evaluate myself, and my own worth. I’m not just the person saying hello & welcome, I’m part of the team working out the strategy and vision for what membership in SCN even means.”
He also supports Paulo & Cecilia in their work on the ICU Committee. “Intercultural unity is not just something I’m passionate about, it’s something I have A LOT to learn about. I’ve spent so much time pouring my energy into my own peer group, now the next step in my personal and professional life is to learn how to connect different groups of people and how we can all support each other best. The work in ICU is extremely powerful for me in my personal life. It’s the kind of stuff I think about every day before and after work anyways, so to be able to work directly in that committee is a dream come true.
ICU right now is all about being known. SCN is about to grow a lot, and it’s important that ICU be one of the first things people hear, see, and know about as they’re being on-boarded into SCN. I can’t share all the details on our awesome secret projects, but a big one is just sharing out to the rest of the community what ICU is and what it hopes to accomplish.”
Andrew is most excited about the people within the SCN community he meets and interacts with every day.
“Every time I meet someone who is in SCN or related in some way I’m starstruck. I don’t just say that. I remember when I first got to meet some of you guys at TomTom Fest. I kept calling my girlfriend after an event and debriefing my experience. When I meet you, I feel so heard and valued. I worked so hard in college to find people that cared intimately about more than just money and success. Everyone in SCN is so committed to an idea or a peer group that needs to be shared and known and loved. Working in Membership I get to see it all. It’s overwhelming. I know a lot of you do a lot of small talk/pitches/etc but every time you share what you do and where you do it, this 22-year-old flies to the moon and back. Your stories give me the confidence to be myself and pursue what matters, and you give me hope that all people will be known and heard one day.
So often I’m struggling to find people who get it, who hear me when I say South Asians are underserved and represented. Most people “get it” like it’s some charity work. But y’all are different. You really want to know and engage in the work, even when it’s excruciatingly painful. You are my heroes and that’s what I’m most excited about working with you.
What is Andrew working on outside of SCN?
Andrew is a storyteller at Share More Stories, and is also working on a very exciting project with a professor at Virginia Union University to introduce a Richmond specific and centered Hip-Hop archive.
“It’s my DREAM that one day there will be a museum exhibit on the history of hip-hop in Richmond, housed in Richmond, that everyone can come and explore. The potential for our youth to come and see the stories of how people in their neighborhoods have used music to empower themselves and others, and then get to tell them that they can do the same, well there’s nothing better than that. I hope in a year or two I’ll have some more concrete things to share about this, but in the meantime, just know that our communities are not just places of opportunity and potential for the future. Our cities often have been engaged in dope work for years, but maybe they just don’t know it. Or maybe they do and they just haven’t gotten the proper recognition for it that they deserve. Highlighting these stories and people not only sheds light on the history of empowerment and strength in our communities, it also produces the best secret ingredient for current and future ecosystem building. It shares the love y’all!”
We love having Andrew as part of our team. If you’d like to join him on either the membership committee or ICU committees, or just want to pick his brain about music education and hip-hop, reach out!