Servas Fosters Peace through Intercultural Exchange

6.What suggestions do you have for someone trying the Servas concept for the first time?

If you were thinking of becoming a Servas traveler,I would say that you
should not plan on staying every night of your vacation with a Host. If you
can set up visits with hosts,you can certainly do that,but I feel that I
am listening and talking much of the time during a visit,so that I need
some down/quiet time after each visit.If you are a very quiet person and
uncomfortable in new social situations,Servas may not be for you.

A traveler must be open to new people and willing to join in with the host or
host family.Servas does not want travelers who plan just to use the host
home as a hotel.You will spend some time with your host,and how much time
depends upon your host’s schedule.

When planning your trip,contact more hosts than you will plan to be staying
with in case some are not available.

7.You personally have traveled through the Servas network. Please tell us about the countries,places and people you visited.

My husband and I have traveled with Servas to Germany,Switzerland, Iceland,
Vancouver / Canada and Bonaire in the Caribbean.We’ve also stayed with hosts
in the US.In Germany,we stayed with a couple that had a large house,so
we had our own bedroom and bathroom,which was nice.(You might sleep on a
mattress in a living room,as we did with another host.) She was a
wonderful cook and they took us around in their car to see some sights,and
we also went to visit another Servas host who was a wine merchant. We
enjoyed the visit very much.

In Iceland,we stayed with the main contact for Servas.I had called her for advice as to where to stay.Even though she was only a day host,she invited us to stay overnight when she heard I worked at the Servas office.She also took us around one entire day showing us all of Reykjavik.We had a wonderful dinner of boiled salmon; I never knew boiled salmon could taste so good.

When she came to NYC the following year,she and her husband stayed with us.
Her husband,who is a carpenter,fixed my dining room chair for me.We
remain good friends and keep in contact.

When my husband and I travel to the Caribbean,we always stay at an inn.
But since there are 7 hosts in Bonaire,I planned to visit them all as a day

One lovely older couple invited us over the evening they had a party for
their 2-year-old grandson.We met their entire family.Not everyone spoke
English,but they were so hospitable.Julio asked me if I ever had eaten
iguana.I said no.He said he would catch one and then invite us over for
dinner.It was delicious,tasted like chicken.

Another host in Bonaire was planning a birthday party for an eighty-year-old
friend.He played in a Mariachi band.She invited us to the party. It was
difficult to find the place,so we picked up a local who drove with us to
the party.There were over 100 people there and the music and food were
great.I think we met half the people who lived on the island.If I had
not known Servas hosts I would never have had these experiences.

8.Please share with us your 3 favourite travel memories related to Servas.

On our trip to Switzerland we stayed with a host near Lake Lucerne. She
rented an old farmhouse on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne.
It had the most beautiful view.I took lots of photos,especially sunsets.
We slept upstairs in the loft and had millet pillows,very comfortable. We
took a hike with her through the countryside,and she walked barefoot all the

I remember her cat,Shacti,who was often left alone for a week at the
farmhouse,and she subsisted on mice.But she would not eat the gall
bladder.We were told by the host that she could count the tiny gall
bladders and know how many she had eaten.One day I observed the cat as she
caught a mouse and watched her carefully remove the tiny gall bladder. She
knew her mouse anatomy.

In Vancouver we stayed on the mainland with a great couple,our age,and
after our stay,we were planning to go to Victoria.They suggested we stay
with a Servas host,friends of theirs,who owned a B&B.But the host book
said that in May they did not take Servas guests,as it was the busy season
for their B&B.But we called them anyway and they said sure we can take you
but you have to make the bed for yourself and again when you leave for their
next “paying” guest.They had a wonderful dog,very friendly. I tend to
look for hosts with pets,as I love animals.It was a great visit, great

My next memory comes from my hosting experience.I’ve been a host for over
15 years and have had many more hosting experiences than travel experiences.
I received a letter from 2 young men from Togo Africa.I had never even
heard of Togo before this.They planned to come to NYC and wanted to stay
with me.It was their first Servas experience.I was expecting them on a
Sunday evening and had a lamb dinner prepared.But they did not come.I
was disappointed.Monday evening we got a call from them,they were at the
Togo embassy in NYC and asked if we could pick them up.AL and I went to
pick them up and found out that Jean could not speak any English and Leon
only a little.I speak very little French,which was their native language.

This was my only visit where language was a problem.But we managed. I did
not get to learn very much about them and their country due to the language
problem.But in our attempts to communicate we had many misunderstandings.
For example,I have a cat,whose kitty litter is in the bathroom. So I
tried to tell them they should not close the door to the bathroom when they
were finished so the cat could get in to use the kitty litter.Well, the
next day,my husband said to me,they did not understand.Leon is in the
bathroom peeing with the door open.He must have thought we were very

But,Leon and Jean never went back to Togo.Due to many unforeseen
circumstances,they stayed in the US.Jean won the green card lottery and
Leon got Political asylum.I am still in close contact with Leon, and in
fact we were witnesses at his marriage to his fiancé from Togo.Now his
English is much better and we can communicate.We laugh over the bathroom

9.How do I become a member of US Servas? How much does it cost?

In order to join Servas USA, you need to fill out a Letter of Introduction,
which you can download from our web site.The letter has a space for you to answer some questions in an essay form.This is where you get to tell your host about yourself.

Spend some time filling this out as your essay will make you
stand out to your host and they will be excited to host you.Then you need 2
letters of recommendation from friends or coworkers.Then you will call an
interviewer (we have over 200 in the US) and meet for an interview. We
charge $85.00 annual fee plus a $25.00 deposit that allows you to get up to
5 countries host lists.The deposit is refunded when you return the books
after your trip.

{Editor’s note: membership prices and guidelines vary from country to country.For specific information please direct yourself to your national Servas branch,which can be located through Servas International.]

Thank you,Carole and Patrice,for your time,your information and for sharing your wonderful experiences.

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