Neftalie Williams, a skateboarding culture professor at the University of Southern California (USC), spoke on Wednesday, Sept. 5 on campus about his love of skateboarding culture, and how he has used his passion to change communities.

Williams recognized early on in his life the power that skateboarding culture had in bringing together different groups of people — regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or income. He worked to create events and groups to bring together his community and state, eventually working at the global level  to unite skaters everywhere.

He has worked with the Sports Diplomacy Program of the U.S. Department of State, and on his own personal projects — visiting Brazil, Cuba, South Africa, the Netherlands and Cambodia. One project, the Maloof Money Cup, was an annual skateboarding competition. The creators built skateparks for the event, with the intent that the parks would remain to permanently benefit the communities.

“Helping people to join together and skate doesn’t just help at the one moment. It creates a sustained effort of help that will continue even after the event is over,” said Williams.

He said that while skateboarding may not be for everyone, it is important that everyone finds something they are passionate about.

“Whatever your passion is, use that to get connected and help resolve the issues you see around you,” said Williams.

Photo courtesy of Amy Barnett