Aran’s Youth Exchange

Ever since I was a child, there have always been strangers staying in my family’s household. From foreign exchange students to world roaming cyclists, I have always felt most at home when other people are in it. As a result, I paid little attention when my parents explained to me, an 11 year old at the time, that they were joining an organization they had heard of called Servas. In fact, it was only 2 and a half years later that my younger self was given any reason to care at all. However, once Servas became relevant to my life, it quickly became very important. In September of 2014, my family embarked on a world tour in which Servas would play a large role.

As we traveled around the world, we were exposed to many different cultures, and for many of them, there was at least one Servas family willing to take us in. This was an absolutely amazing experience as we were not only provided with friendly conversation and a place to stay, but also with otherwise hard to find insights into the lives and cultures of foreign peoples. One experience I will never forget is being in Jaipur, a major city in India, and staying with Raj, Hamsa and their daughter Adu. With them we shared traditional food from both of our cultures, and talked about politics and the world in general. Years prior, Raj had done a two-year bike trip around the world, with his family joining him for a year.

It was also through Servas that I was able to meet Titouan. He is a French boy of my age who came to stay with us in Toronto and learn English for a month this past summer. Between a trip to a cottage in the Kawartha Highlands and a tour of the eastern United States, we created a lot of memories together. If I had never come into contact with Servas, my life would be much less rich. It is because of this that I must heartily recommend Servas to any would be world travellers. Believe me, you won’t regret it!

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