I joined Servas 12 years ago, in a rather circuitous way. I was on a walk about, so to speak, and while staying with a woman who was connected to a friend, I spoke about my travel plans. On listening to my plans, she immediately asked me why I did not consider Servas. Truth be told, I never heard of Servas. When I asked her more about it I was inspired to join immediately, and was connected with a host coordinator in Jerusalem. I became a member. Looking back now, joining Servas changed my experience from being a tourist to being a traveller. I met and stayed with welcoming people and by spending time with them I got a sense of what their life was like. This was exactly what I was looking for in my journey. Wherever possible, I stayed with Servas members for the rest of my walk about.
Recently I moved from Vancouver, BC, to one of the islands and was able to shift my work there. In talking with another Servas member, I discovered a gracious, welcoming Servas host (Paul) near my work. I have continued to visit and stay with Paul, a long-time Servas host, and now a good friend. This relocation also put me in touch with Servas Victoria and for the last two years, I have made a point of participating in the local Servas social gathering.
In February 2018, I attended my first social gathering, and I was struck by how friendly and warm everyone was. How often do you walk into a room full of people, and actually meet and talk to everyone? Of course, all enjoyed a wide variety of food, and together we spoke about our recent Servas experiences as either a host or traveller and of upcoming events of interest. Even the dreaded clean up afterwards with so many people contributing occurred with such ease. After this first introduction to Servas, I made my goal to build more of a Servas friendship network in the Victoria area, since it is a place I love to spend time. I have found these social events very helpful in sharing and expanding these friendships.
I have come to realize that being a Servas member is much more than meeting people internationally, who share a philosophy of creating global peace through local dialogue. It is also very much about connecting with your local Servas community. I have now joined the Servas Canada Board to offer ongoing support for Servas, and I want to create a strong Servas network here on the islands both for travellers and the local community.