U. S. Servas

promoting world peace one conversation at a time…

Angela Ross’s Servas Story!

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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.

 

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Author: United States Servas, Inc.

Servas is a worldwide cooperative cultural exchange network established in 1948 and composed of member hosts and travelers working together to foster peace, goodwill and mutual respect. Servas seeks to realize these aims by providing opportunities for person-to-person contacts between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Our mission includes providing approved US and international travelers with opportunities to be guests of Servas member hosts around the world.

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