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Matthew Simonson

he / him / his
Service Project: MY Place

Community Engagement/Community Outreach, Education &  Children/Youth

Hello. My name is Matthew Simonson. Due to my life in a military family and a desire to see new places after high school, a hometown is a bit hard for me to put down. As it is, I have lived in 7 different states and 2 countries. Getting to interact with such a wide variety of people throughout my life is one of the things that inspired me to pursue my degree in anthropology. I wanted to gain a better understanding of the various communities I had lived in and the multitude of cultures that exist globally. My studies generally focused on human oppression, and this is the impetus for my desire to work in the areas of community building and bridging divides. There is much that we can learn from each other if only we take the time to listen. So, as much effort as I will be putting into my time as a VISTA, I will also be focusing on listening to the needs of the community that I will be serving and implementing an action plan that is appropriate for their desires.

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Letter to My Countrymen by Brother Ali ft. Dr. Cornell West

This song resonates with me on many levels, and I can thank it for helping shape my perspective of the role I should play in pursuing community engagement opportunities. He has a line that says, “Do I fight in the movement or think I'm entitled to it?” This line has always stuck with me and tempers the direction and force of my efforts. I find it extremely valuable to truly question and understand our motivations while not allowing that process keep us from moving forward.And Dr. West’s lines at the end of the song, I feel, encapsulates much of what we are all trying to accomplish with directing our efforts through AmeriCorps programs such as this one. So, I will leave this off with a full quote from Dr. West.“My dear Brother Ali,I think you know deep down in your soul that something, something just ain't right. You don't want to be just well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference. You want to be a person with integrity who leaves a mark on the world. People can say when you go that you left the world just a little better than you found it. I understand. I want to be like that too.”

Old Money by Omar Rodriguez Lopez 

I would have to say that Omar is one of my favourite musicians. He has an extremely broad range of sound and incorporates many interesting styles in his music. He has everything from metal to orchestral albums and alternative rock to noise albums. So, some of his music may not be as easy to listen to (bonus points if you make it through the entire 9:20 song). The reason that I appreciate his music so much is because he embodies the pursuit of passion. At the age of 47 (born 1975) he has 49 studio albums out and has worked on various other projects as well. It is hard to fathom producing this much music in such a short amount of time and it inspires me to pursue my own passions to see what I may be able to accomplish.

Welcome to the Hills – Yussef Dayes 

This is another fairly long track (7:17) but I hope you will enjoy. Yussef Dayes is currently my favourite drummer and seems to have the ability to bring out the best in the musicians that he collaborates with. And I feel that is something that I am seeking by joining a cohort that is dedicated to making a positive impact in the communities we will be serving. I am hopeful that we will help bring out the best in each other through our shared commitment to community building. The power of a group comes from being able to utilise the strengths of each individual, and I feel the music Yussef has produced with the various artists he has worked with showcases that ideal.

  Story Soundtrack