Matt Berger talks Ethiopia
It's been a big year for Matt Berger. Starting with a trip to Ethiopia with Nyjah Huston and Tony Hawk, Berger struggled to find skate spots alongside gun-wielding armed guards. And then he returned to the U.S., where he released a full video part while simultaneously being turned pro for Flip Skateboards. And the year is far from over. In anticipation of the "Dream Big: Skateboarders in Ethiopia" show on 'World of X Games' later this year, XGames.com caught up with Berger to talk.
XGames.com: Was this your first trip to Africa?
Berger: Nah, this was my third trip to Africa. But I've never been to Ethiopia.
How was it?
The trip was an incredible mixture of culture shock and eye opening experiences with cool people to say the least.
Normally, skate trips are focused on skating and getting footage, but that wasn't the case in Africa.
There probably hasn't been any other skate trip like this done before. Most skate trips are focused simply on getting photos and footage. Our trip was a collaboration of filming and getting photos mixed with charity work. We were helping people in the community while showing them how rad skateboarding is.
Nyjah is a young skater doing pretty big things -- what is your perspective on Nyjah's efforts outside of skateboarding?
Nyjah is a successful young dude and to see him help make change for the less fortunate people in this world is something we all can appreciate.
Let It Flow Foundation Ethiopia 2015 trip
In late January, the "World of X Games" brought a select group of skateboarders to Ethiopia to rebuild wells in support of Nyjah Huston's Let It Flow Foundation. Together with Nyjah's mother Kelle, Let It Flow aims to bring flowing, safe water and sanitation to people in need. Not only did the trip to Ethiopia involve well repair, it provided training to the locals to learn to maintain their wells. Here's an inside look at the trip to Africa, featuring Nyjah Huston, Tony Hawk, Aaron "Jaws" Homoki and more. The full show, Being Volume 2, airs at 2 p.m. ET July 11 on ABC.
What made this trip a life changing experience for you?
Just simply experiencing the culture and positive spirits people carry in Ethiopia was life changing alone. A lot of people's life circumstances are against them, yet they still have such positive spirits. It was really inspiring.
Can you describe the skate spots you happened upon?
I think it was unique in the fact that no one had ever done a skate trip to Ethiopia. That alone got me so stoked that I wanted to skate whatever I could. The only downside to it is almost every spot in Ethiopia is rough and borderline un-skateable. But, basically anything we saw that we thought we might be able to skate, we checked out and tried to skate. It was a struggle at times just aimlessly driving around hoping to stumble upon a something to skate, but in the end we ended up finding some solid spots.
How would you describe the skate scene in Africa?
The skate scene is just being introduced into Africa. I feel like people are just discovering how rad skateboarding is there. But with that being said, it's in a healthy stage and growing, which rules.
Was there anything you never thought you'd do in Africa?
I never thought I would ever go to Africa in my lifetime. The fact that I've been lucky enough to go, let alone to do charity work and skate, made it that much cooler.
What was the most unusual thing you happened upon in Africa?
Getting kicked out of a spot by two armed guards holding AK-47s because the president's route was scheduled to drive up the street soon was definitely an unusual happening, especially when we were out filming.