U. S. Servas

promoting world peace one conversation at a time…

Leave a comment

Meet Chip Greenberg!









Chip is an architect from Dummerston, Vermont

Servas Background: He’s been a member as a host and traveler since 1972- 40 years!

Interviewing for: About 35 years!

Traveled to: Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Panama, Canada and Poland

Favorite Servas Memory: As travelers, helping our host family in Wales build a life-size dinosaur as part of an anti-war protest parade

Hobbies: Sailing, Camping, Design, Working on theater projects, the Arctic, Travel and Motorcycling

Favorite Quote: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” -Albert Einstein

Reasons for involvement with Servas: To build understanding between cultures

Importance of Servas: To get to know people who travel different paths

If you’re in need of an interviewer in the area, or traveling to Vermont visit Chip!

Check back next week to learn a little bit more about our next featured interviewer


Leave a comment

Volunteer For Peace

Hello Friends!

We recently learned of an international volunteer opportunity that we are excited to pass on to you!

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit that promotes International Voluntary Service as an effective means of intercultural education, service learning and community development. They have more than 3,000 projects in over 100 countries, offering 2-3 week, medium or long-term placements.

Learn more by visiting their website at http://www.vfp.org, emailing info@vfp.org or calling (802) 540-3060

Help make a difference in small communities around the world!


Leave a comment

Servas and WWOOF!

Dear SERVAS Friends,

We have been SERVAS hosts for over 34 years. Our first SERVAS guest happened to be a tree arborist. During his stay he put a cable in a tree with three tops to make it more stable. Recently we had to take that tree down for safety and the bottom diameter was was a big 34″. We were able to sell lots of fire wood as well as burn the wood ourselves. Since we live on a farm often SERVAS guests pitch in with garden and orchard work as well as enjoying a hike on Twin Brooks Trail. We are also hosts for WWOOF (World wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for 41 years. We find that guests from SERVAS and WWOOF are from the Butterfly clan – they fly in with all their beauty, sharing and help and then fly off for their next visit. We have six journals with notes from our visitors from the USA and around the world. Thank you so much SERVAS for your sharing and goodness! 

Carl Nelson and Lorna Smith

Leave a comment

Anotnia’s Story

Antonia’s Story

By Ken Hughes and Ellen Kemper

  Sometimes you have to travel half way around the world to become inspired at home.  Our recent visits to Cambodia, Ecuador, and Belize exposed us to foreign cultures but also opened our eyes about much we consume back here in Santa Fe.  We sought a place with an equivalent lifestyle that is much more efficient. Our answer was to search for the past, in this case,  Europe, where folks consume half the energy per capita of Americans.  Folks like Antonia, a delightful eight-year old  whom we met one day in Freiburg, Germany, as her dad (and a Servas host) was teaching her how to ride a unicycle, which for her was not just a toy but one of many different ways for her to happily move around her neighborhood that consciously puts the mobility needs of kids before cars.  It’s a place that allows Antonia to skip across the trolley tracks to her school while big sister Charlotte takes the trolley to her school and father Walter bikes on a paved trail to his job,  allowing the family to eschew owning a car.

While modern European cities and subdivisions fall prey to excesses all too often prevalent in America,traditional European cities display significantly lower carbon emissions than us, yet they maintain a high standard of living and strong economic development.  Ken learned of a conference on climate change and urban design in Oslo, Norway, and he submitted an abstract about how New Mexico plans to cut its energy use by 20%.  The paper was accepted and we put together a September 2008 trip to get a first-hand feel for the European example. 

 Servas members opened up their homes: Randi and Olav in Bergen, Norway; Jacob in Copenhagen; Edelgard and Gabriela in Marburg, Germany; and Heidrun & Walter & Charlotte & Antonia in Freiburg, Germany.  Our cohousing neighbor Vidia linked us up with her delightful friend Oystein who lives across the fjord from Oslo.  Santa Fe friends Roger and Peggy rented us their lovely flat in Nice, France, and Ellen locatedwww.vrbo.com/18667 a Parisian apartment near the Arc de Triomphe.

 European inspiration was overwhelming.  Ken met with staff of the Copenhagen Climate Change Council. If the 60’s gave us super rock groups like Cream, this decade gives us a super climate groups like this 24-person board that includes two Americans, Obama’s DOE Secretary Stephen Chu and visionary Shai Agassi. Agassi’s Project Better Place is applying the cell phone model and teaming up with Denmark’s largest utility to put its excess wind power into electric car batteries. Since cars usually sit idle during most hours in a day, the utility economist explained to Ken, their battery power can be harnessed to juice up the grid.  Denmark, by the way, waives its 181% new car tax on purchases of all electric cars; Uncle Sam take note.  With 35 percent of Danish adults biking to jobs that pay a minimum $19 per hour (and a 1% jobless rate) Copenhagen offers a vision of a carbon-light society.  Let’s hope the world is equally inspired in December when the city hosts the next climate change conference, this time with America’s honest participation.

We saw bike sharing programs in action in both Oslo and Paris. When Ken biked in Paris 30 years ago, it was a rarity.  The Vel Lib program has literally transformed the City of Lights.  Parisiennes

easily access bikes at docking stations placed near their 6-story apartment buildings.  Just ride a bit, park it, do what you need to do and find another bike when it’s time to pedal on. Repeat as needed.

 Soon Paris may sport car sharing: Ken met with MDI (www.mdi.lu), a company near Nice hoping to win a car sharing contract with the Paris mayor’s office, offering a 2 meter-long Air Pod that runs on compressed air. It would be the perfect vehicle for Paris as well as cities the world over.

Solar is front and center in Germany, not exactly the world’s sunniest spot..  Medieval Marbury requires solar on all new and renovated homes, and Freiburg, with citizen-led rejection of nuclear and coal fired power plants, and with 10% of roofs sporting solar panels, prides itself as Germany’s environmental capital. The Mayor’s solar program director told us of plans to solarize the entire city in the near future.  As with Copenhagen, it is impressive how Freiburg residents exercise many options to get around: the network of trolleys and bike trails throughout the city, and strolls afforded in vast green spaces not far from residential neighborhoods.  In fact, our Servas host family lives in the Vauban neighborhood that is designed for families that choose to live without a car,  because they can.

   Europe is blessed with trains connecting just about every place, with more superfast trains on the way.  In fact, our TGV train ride between Marseilles on the Mediterranean and Paris was only two hours. Little wonder that France is one of the few countries to actually live up to its Kyoto carbon reduction pledge.

  So, how can we cut our energy use by not just twenty percent, or to  catch up to the Europeans at fifty percent below our prolific ways, but to get to the eighty percent reduction scientists like Dr. Chu we need to stave off the worst effects of global climate disruption?  Let’s start with something we take for granted in America: free parking.  Let’s value that parking at, say, $100 a month and issue a “living green card”.  Your card decreases in value each time you use it to open the parking lot

 gate at work or shops.  You can avoid that by arriving by some other means – walk, Segway, bike, carpool, train, bus.  You can use your card to buy a transit pass, or rent a regular bike, an electric bike, or a carbon-negative car at any docking station located in populated and popular areas of Santa Fe. Savings on the cards could also be parlayed into purchases of kilowatt hours at the local

 community supported solar array, with credit going on your monthly electric bill. Or the card can purchase energy efficiency measures for your domicile. Such a green living incentive program could readily get American communities on the path toward an eighty percent reduction in carbon-laden fossil fuels.  We should emulate the kind of vision and action we witnessed in Copenhagen and Freiburg. Antonia would not have it any other way.

Leave a comment

Angela Ross’s Servas Story!

Hello Arcata folks — from Servas member, Angela Ross We’ve been traveling in Sicily or 3 weeks staying sometimes with Servas hosts and sometimes in hotels (as there are not members everywhere on this island). We’ve had some great experiences with several Servas members here in Sicily, and the stories are continuing. But for now, I wanted to share a photo or two, and the story behind the photos. We stayed with the coordinator of Servas for Sicily, Alfredo Rubino, who is a retired public service union leader. He and his wife, Renate (from Germany, and still working as a social worker with the poor) met when both were involved in the peace movement led by Danilo Dolci in Partinico, a small city about 40 minutes from Palermo. Danilo Dolci worked with the poor in this area in the 1960s and established a progressive school a short distance from Alfredo’s house. We did a great many things together, but one that will stay in my memory for a long time is attending a middle school event held in a beautiful 18th century, very large restored cantina, called the Cantina Borbonica. The 12 and 13 year old students were putting on a series of plays that recounted the biblical stories of Jesus (this being the week before Easter) from Palm Sunday through doubting Thomas (something we’d NEVER see in an American public school.) The point was, at the end, that the message of these stories is PEACE, and how many more contemporary leaders associated with peace movements spoke and acted. The last “play” was in a conference hall with students sitting at a long table as though it was a conference of some of the most noted peace leaders. The students,dressed in appropriate costume, represented such figures as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Danilo Dolci, Oscar Romero, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others. While each student took their turn speaking as one of these leaders, a slide show ran on a screen above them showing the faces of those whose profound words they were speaking. I was impressed not only by the talent of these kids, but by the fact that the school was uniting some stories that are part of their cultural heritage, which is very strongly Catholic, with their application for promoting world peace today. The experience of seeing and speaking with these kids is something a “non-Servas” traveler probably could not have. One of the things I like best about staying with Servas hosts is that it gives me the opportunity to connect with the local people, their experiences and their social & political awareness. Also, staying with Alfredo and Renate taught me a lot about the past struggles of the Sicilian people for social justice and peace.



Leave a comment

Road Scholars – Meet Servas!

By Sharon Arkin

Tucson, Arizona

For the past seven years, I have shared a Road Scholar (aka Elderhostel) inter-generational experience with one or both of my grandsons, now 13 and 16 years old. Together, we marveled at the majesty of the Grand Canyon and cheered each other’s “high ropes” derringdo; wallowed in mud and studied sea critters at a Virginia marine science program, stepped back in time in Pompeii and enjoyed the wonders of ancient and modern Rome, and acquired sailing skills in
Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

In 2010, I had my first “unaccompanied” Road Scholar experiences – a seafood program in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and a horseback camping trip in the High Sierras.

Three of these memorable Road Scholar experiences were enriched by a series of add-on adventures that could be yours.

When in an unfamiliar part of the world for a brief period, it’s difficult to become acquainted and share in the daily lives of local residents. Wouldn’t it be nice to be invited for several days to be guests in the home of an individual or family that has actively sought visitors from other places, such as you?

Here’s how to find such welcoming hosts. Join Servas!

Servas is an international non-profit organization founded in 1948 by an American peace activist. Its purpose is to foster friendship among people by providing home hospitality to travelers  and experiencing home hospitality from hosts who are members.  The name Servas comes from the Esperanto word that means “to serve.”

Traveling members can obtain directories of host members in whatever cities or countries they plan to visit and may simply email or phone requests for hospitality from persons whose bios suggest common interests. It is NOT an imposition, as directories contain entries only of people who have specifically requested to be listed.  One does not have to be a host to be a Servas traveler. However, one does have to complete an application, be interviewed and approved by a local Servas member, and pay an nominal annual fee. To be a U.S. host requires a separate application and a suggested donation.

Following are highlights of some of my post-Road Scholar Servas experiences. In 2005, my son and his family rented a house in Tuscany for the summer.

I arranged for my then 9 year old elder grandson to participate with me in (then) Elderhostel’s Rome/Sorrento inter-generational program before joining the rest of the family in Impruneta, a town outside Florence known for the manufacture of ceramic roof shingles.  With my daughter-in-law and two grandsons, I enjoyed Servas hospitality inthe parish house of a young priest in Lucca and in the suburban home of a young married couple outside of Venice. On my own, I traveled with a Servas member I met in  Florence to Verona and to her home town of Bolzano, where we stayed in the 4th story walk up apartment of her brother, caretaker of the town’s cathedral which his apartment overlooked.

In 2010, following my horseback camping trip in Bishop, California, I visited several Servas hosts in Nevada. One host family raised alpacas and chickens, in addition to their careers and active involvement with Reno’s Garden club and arts community. Another host couple introduced me to boogie boarding on Reno’s downtown whitewater park.

In 2011, in the week between a Road Scholar inter-generational sailing program at Linekin Bay Resort with my then 12 year old grandson and a bicycle trip with my then 15 year old grandson in Acadia National Park, I enjoyed Servas hospitality with four different Servas hosts in Maine.

First was Julie and Michael who live on a 300 acre farm in New Gloucester. Michael teachers therapeutic horseback riding and volunteers as an English teacher for African refugees and as substitute pastor for his church. Julie works for the University of Maine evaluating housing projects for the elderly. They raise bees and produce maple syrupon their property and have built 40 miles of marked hiking trails and a yurt (round tent-like structure) for the use of their community. They took me horseback riding, to their church on a day when Michael was preaching, to a dinner party at a neighbor’s home, and to the nearby Shaker village.

My next host was Jayme, a web designer, graphic designer, and marketing consultant from South Portland. She took me to Whole Foods, where we each bought our favorite delicacies, and then went to her favorite beach for an early evening picnic. We went to a great bakery the next morning, where we bought bagels and pastries for breakfast and I bought baked goods to bring to my next host.  She then took me to a pre-arranged meeting place where my friend Nancy (a newly recruited Servas member) from a town near Boston picked me up and drove us to our next host, Will and Sarah from  Bowdoinham and their two great sons, Tristan, 10, and Jonah, 8.  They live on 7 acres in a 100+ year old house which they are slowly renovating. Sarah is a psychotherapist and Will, a former art teacher and furniture maker, currently works nights as a caregiver for developmentally disabled adults.  Nancy and I spent the day after we arrived at a beach and at the nearby Bath Maritime Museum which displays all aspects of constructing the large wooden sailing schooners that were used in the late 1800s and early1900s to transport coal from mines in Pennsylvania. We also shopped for and prepared dinner for our hard-working hosts and their children.

Our final host was Jewell, a 79 year old widowed free lance writer, who took us to her family’s cabin on a beautiful lake. It was built in 1926 and had no indoor plumbing, telephone, or chlorinated water.  (She laughingly pointed out that, nowadays, that doesn’t matter, as everyone has cell phones and drinks bottled water!)

There was an outhouse down a path with a terrific little book on display “Loo with a View”, illustrated with photos of
outhouses and toilets in some of the world’s most beautiful places! We went canoeing for several hours, thrilling to the
sight and sounds of a loon (which are found on lakes, not near salt water). We ate buffalo burgers for dinner,played Scrabble, admired the many antiques and old books that were around and slept on a deliciously cool screened porch.

The next day, Nancy drove me to the Road Scholar program at the Linekin Bay sailing resort and spent one day there before returning to Boston.  My final Servas experience that summer was helping two Chinese students who worked at the resort become Servas members and find hosts in New York, Boston, and Washington for their post-summer job vacation before returning to China.

In addition to the above, I have experienced unforgettable Servas hospitality in Turkey, India, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Israel, Denmark,Vancouver, San Diego, Albuquerque, Manhattan, Prescott, Arizona, and several towns in Massachusetts. If you should ever attend one of Arizona’s Road Scholar programs, I hope you will budget time before or after to join the ranks of the many Servas travelers who have enriched my home.

For information about Servas and how to join, go to www.usservas.org. You’ll be glad you did!

Leave a comment

You’re Invited!

Dear Friends in Servas,

SI EXCO, Servas Poland and the organizing team are happy to invite you to register for the 29th International Conference and General Assembly (GA) in Poland. It will be held August 18th-25th.

To register yourself for the GA, please click the link below. Get more information and follow the steps to register:


We are looking forward to meeting you in person soon!

SI EXCO, Servas Poland and the organizing team