Presenting: Pablo Chufeni – Servas Traveller and a Champion of Cross-Border Youth Exchanges
I met Pablo at the Canada-US Servas Conference that was held at the beginning of August in Vancouver where I had a chance to spend about an hour and a half with him to find out more about his involvement as a volunteer for Servas, an organization with hosts and travellers in more than 130 countries whose motto is “Travel for peace” to promote greater inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. Pablo is one of those people who always has a smile on his face and he is filled with an incredible amount of energy. Through Servas he has travelled through a variety of European and North and South American countries.
As a volunteer for Servas, Pablo has tried to harness the international network of Servas in new ways, and most recently he has created an initiative that allows young Servas members to go on language exchanges free of charge that are facilitated by other Servas travellers. Both accommodation and language training are provided free of charge by local Servas hosts. So far his network of participating countries includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, the United States and Canada which will provide no-cost language study opportunities to young Servas members in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English.
In addition he is also organizing a youth summit for Servas, to be held in January 2006 in the resort town of Bariloche, Argentina. And he does all these activities part-time, after work, as a volunteer. Meet this bundle of positive energy – Pablo Chufeni.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what is your profession, where do you live now?
I’m 27 years old and I work as a theater professor in various institutes. I also study politics at the university as well as French and Portuguese. This year I started to work for the Developing Bank of the Americas in a social program here in my city, Rosario, in Argentina, where I currently live nowadays. I work in the capacitation department as a tutor for teenagers who are at risk. For 7 years I worked for the local TV station as a general producer, but that took up all my time, so now I prefer to use my days in a different way. I also work for a foundation that works with cultural promotion here in my city.
2. You have been a Servas member for a few years now. How did you hear about this organization and what was your first travel experience like?
I heard of Servas by acident,sitting at a coffee table. First I went to Europe as a traveller, but after that I organized my own local group of Servas hosts here in Rosario, and I got involved in the running of the organization. I have been to official meetings in Canada, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, UK and Uruguay. The Servas experiences are so deep and so profound that it is quite complicated to talk about them in a few lines. What I have experienced is simply amazing, it has changed my life.
3. What countries have you travelled to through Servas? What kinds of people from what places have you hosted in your home? What makes Servas travel so
special to you?
I have traveled with Servas in Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, and the UK. But I´ll make my list larger as soon as
possible!!! At my place I have hosted people from the USA, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil. My house is open to Servas travellers all year long.
It´s not only the bridge that Servas builds for you, but also who is waiting for you on the other side. All the people in Servas are great and interesting, otherwise they wouldn’t open their doors and use their time to chat with you and show you their world.
4. Please tell us about your 3 favourite or most memorable travel stories.
I met a nice couple in Lisbon, she was Mexican and he was born in Angola. The time I spent with them was great. They originally met trough Servas when she was a traveller staying at his house. And now they are married!!!
I also met a guy in Brussels who ate food without cooking it and had strong opinions on flavours and health and how human beings developed the art of cooking only by following their tongue. I had another interesting travel experience with an Arab person who lived in Paris. This was simply amazing. We went together to see a show in Paris of Ute Lemper, a German singer that I always liked, and one day I saw signs in the streets of Paris, announcing one of her concerts. Unfortunately the signs said SOLD OUT! But when I returned to his house he told me, Pablo, I’ve got tickets to a show tonight in case you want to go. We had a great time at the concert.