Julie, host and traveller from Ontario, finds inspiration from seeing her world differently through the eyes of her hosts. Read More…
Judy, a host from Manitoba views travellers as “friends she hasn’t met before,” and appreciates the way travel exchanges bridge the cultural gap that often exist along the age spectrum. Read More…
The answer is a most definite “NO.” So much so, that one weekend I left a key for a young man I’d never met who would arrive while I was at a meeting. He had a shower, rifled through my cupboards, went grocery shopping, and was ready to cook me dinner while I participated in a two hour teleconference. Then we shared a bottle of wine and a lovely dinner in the back yard while we talked about work, our travels, and life in general. And then we washed dishes together.
I don’t think of them as strangers, but fellow travellers and friends that I just haven’t met before, who will spend an evening or two with me, sharing stories and ideas. I recently remarked about a visit with a 65 year old woman from the Netherlands that it “just felt like having a sleepover with an old friend.”
What has surprised me most about hosting has been the fact that age and gender also seem irrelevant. A pair of twenty-something young men who were bicycling across the country have seemed perfectly at home in the midst of a “happy hour” with a dozen of my 50 to 70 year-old friends, and I thoroughly enjoyed an evening of conversation and a morning bicycle ride with an 18 year-old German lad. I would dearly love to have guests from more diverse cultures, but one of the things that hospitality exchange programs have shown me is that they can also bridge the cultural gap that exists along the age spectrum. In a world where we hear a lot of negativity about youth, I have met young people very involved in their communities and interested in the world around them—and interested in learning about me and how I see the world.
Nelson, of Edmonton sees Servas as a travel adventure that allows him to travel the back roads of faraway places and meet local people confidently and securely. Read More…
If you want a travel adventure, if you want a break from tour group travelling, if you want to experience the real local culture and form friendships in other countries, then I recommend Servas.
With Servas you may also host international travellers. Imagine sharing your home, city and country with travellers from faraway places.
Alison, from the Yukon, finds delight in conversations in her second language. Read More…
I have had the wonderful opportunity to speak my second language with hosts – how great to have real conversations on a wide range of topics with people who not only share my values, but are also willing to help out with vocabulary!
I feel lucky to offer others hospitality, to provide a base for them to rest and plan and wander about. We are an adventurous and kind lot, we Servas members, and there can never be too many of us.
Lorna, from Montreal, appreciates the long, invariably honest conversations held over a shared meal. Read More…
It’s not all about travel, however. Mostly, I appreciate the long, invariably honest conversations we have usually over sharing a meal. I have met so many fascinating people through Servas and keep in touch with some of them long afterwards. I feel lucky to be part of this process.
As a 50 year old, Judith, from Saltspring Island, “Servased” her way around the world in 1992. Her fondest memories of the trip are of the many hosts who welcomed her into their homes and hearts. Read More…
I met my first host, now living in Germany, in Thailand. Her response to my request for a stay was ͞”The key is under the mat. Stay as long as you like;” the best introduction to Servas one could imagine! We have remained friends ever since. I have visited her in Germany four times, she visited us at another friend’s home in Bavaria and she stayed a week with us last year in Italy.
In Thailand, I also had a wonderful stay with hosts who ran a kindergarten. My first hosts in Malaysia were a lovely couple, Sikh lawyers who told me sadly that even though they had high-level jobs, racism was such that they were still considered to be the bottom of the social ladder! I hope things have changed for the better now. My next hostess was in Kuala Lumpur – dear Harbans is a friend for life!
After Singapore, Bali, and Jakarta, I arrived in India. My next host was in Mumbai. He meditated with me, took me to interesting sites and a wonderful Carnatic voice concert. I had a spectacular sleeping place on the roof, from whence I could see the Parsi Towers. Another hostess in the same city was a lawyer who introduced me to her family and other highly educated female friends.
Off to Greece where my hostess and her husband were both lawyers. Then I flew to Rome where my Servas hostess was a full professor at the University of Rome, even though she was severely physically challenged. She let me stay for three days before I flew to Egypt and three other African countries. On my return to Rome, she was happy to receive me again! As I travelled north in Italy, I was hosted in Bologna, Padua, and Trieste. From there I went to Zagreb because, as a psychologist specializing in trauma, I and a colleague were asked to help educate social workers dealing with the many traumatized women coming out of the rape camps.
I left Zagreb and was hosted by a mother and son living in Budapest. She was a special education teacher – my prior profession. From there I went to Prague, where a day hostess showed me the John Lennon memorial wall, among other special sights. Then to Austria and Germany, where my very first host welcomed me again! In Spain, I stayed with a lovely hostess in Barcelona and two other hosts in central and northern Spain. I then travelled by train to Paris, France, to be hosted by a woman who was visually impaired, but took me to places tourists seldom see like the huge Asian vegetable and food market.
I left France and travelled to Denmark, where a female PhD. geologist working on the Greenland drilling project hosted me. She took me to Jutland to meet her parents and put me on the ferry to Norway, where my relatives live. I stayed with a lovely young university woman in Oslo, then to my relatives and the Lofoten Islands. I then journeyed to Sweden where my hosts were a wonderful couple, cultural workers who played music on traditional instruments, and at puppet shows. I stayed in touch with them for some time, and arranged for their two daughters to be pen pals with some girls their age from a school on Salt Spring Island where I live. On to Finland, where I stayed in subsidized housing with a single woman who showed me unusual sites, including a beautiful round underground church with an amazing copper ceiling/roof!
From there, I toured Russia, Poland, and back to Zagreb, where my colleague and I were able to be of some help again. After which I returned to Rome, and you guessed it, was hosted by the same university professor!
The last stage of this incredible journey was to South America, where I met a delightful day hostess in Argentina who introduced me to friends, artists and to great food! After travelling to Chile, I went to eastern Mexico where I hitched a ride on a plane to the US and took a bus home to Salt Spring Island. I may have forgotten a few hosts but this trip was wonderful because of the kind people who received me into their homes and their hearts!