Annual Message from National Secretary (2017)

Hello Servas Canada!

Please note: Beginning January 1, 2018, Canada will no longer use paper stamps on LOIs meaning that all LOIs must be created through ServasOnline (https://servas.org/en/my-servas), so that they will have an electronic (e-) stamp. Hosts who want to travel will need to add the role of “Traveller” to their ServasOnline profiles before they can complete the ServasOnline LOIs. For more information, contact an interviewer near you or Alison Reid (areid@northwestel.net).

Here it is, nearing the end of another year and I’d like to chat a bit about our Servas family.

For both Servas International and Servas Canada, this year has embraced technology. First, Servas International finalized operations of its new ServasOnline database with member information, which replaces paper host lists, as each country uploads its own data. As of June, data from 45 Servas countries is available.

Second, Servas Canada fully revised and updated its website (http://www.canadaservas.org/en/home/). If you are new to Servas, on the website you will see details on how to join, and how to travel or host and the responsibilities of these two roles. Whether you are new to this global community or a long-established Servas member, you will find lots of useful information including:
• Details about travelling in Canada or overseas
• Listings of Servas opportunities through News & Views, Making Connections programmes, or the Occasional Bulletin
• Stories of travellers’ experiences (Travellers’ Tales) or in archived newsletters
• A variety of member contributions (Members’ Voices)
• Insights on travel to particular countries by previous travellers (through travel reports)
• Guidelines on how use ServasOnline
• Servas Canada operational documents

There are many people involved in rebuilding Servas Canada; I’d like to thank each one of you, in particular Judy Bartel, Alison Reid, Nancy Palardy, Brette Ehalt, Jillian Logee, and two French translators.

Remember that Servas Canada survives on the contributions of volunteers; if you would like to help out with Servas Canada and/or contribute to the website, please contact us at www.canadaservas.org/en/contact-us/

Did you know that Servas has a place at the United Nations? I will finish with a few thoughts on this association, because it is one significant difference between Servas and other hosting/travel communities. Our link with the UN offers us the chance to share our peace mandate and our hope for global cultural tolerance & understanding across the world stage. At the grassroots level, this dialogue begins with Servas travel, which is expanded through our youth and Making Connections opportunities.

This year, the United Nations 170th General Assembly designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The ideas of sustainability, tourism, and even development fit beautifully into the mandate of Servas. From the UN’s website, I’ll highlight two key areas where tourism plays a role: “cultural values, diversity and heritage;” and “mutual understanding, peace and security.” I think about the principles embedded in these two phrase when I reflect on my own Servas experiences this year of spending a full day touring the Rocky mountains with two Japanese ladies, one who had never travelled to Canada before; and on several visits with an Italian gentleman who was exploring across Canada on his own for six months!!

As travellers, not so much tourists (as noted in the Occasional Bulletin 2 sent out earlier in the autumn), Servas members hope to “travel peacefully and walk lightly on Earth.” Servas members try to be tolerant and understanding of the great human cultural diversity that exists on this planet, and with that knowledge encourages the conversation of peace. Servas members recognize that international travel/tourism is a global phenomenon that potentially includes everyone and everywhere, and that through this shared dialogue, protects and restores Earth’s biodiversity. Best wishes, J.

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