Rick Fifield is an interviewer and host in New Orleans!
What is your Servas background? I joined Servas through Kit Senter in 1980. That was a time in my life when I could not afford to travel. I was paying off student loans and fully engaged in my internship. I had traveled during my undergraduate years and badly wanted to get back out there into the world. Servas offered me an opportunity to have the world “come to me.” I met wonderful people both New Orleans hosts and travelers from around the world.
How long you have been an interviewer? I have been an interviewer for about 20 years.
Where have you traveled? I have traveled and made Servas contact in France, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan. The list of countries I have visited is quite long numbering over 30 countries. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, Central Africa and a student in France. I have traveled in extensively in Europe, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and East Africa as well as Madagascar and Mauritius.
What is one great memory you have from Servas (as a traveler, host, or interviewer)? This was many years ago. I was a young host and so attracted mostly young travelers. A group of three young Danish men visited me when I was living on S. St. Patrick Street. They were great guys and I remember having a wonderful time with them. They were taking what I have come to know as the “southern route” driving in a beat-up car they purchased for the trip from NYC through Disneyland, New Orleans and the Grand Canyon to LA. About 6 months later I was contacted by a pair of young German women driving from the west toward the east. A similar “southern route” in reverse. I agreed to host and was very surprised to find them driving the same car the Danish men had driven when visiting me in earlier. The car had suffered somewhat during that time but was good to go for the rest of their travel to NYC. I wonder if there are other cars caught in coast to coast travel with young European travelers.
What hobbies do you enjoy? I construct buildings, make large scale earth based sculpture, paint, ride bicycles and read.
Why are you involved with Servas, and why do you think that Servas is important? I continue to believe that finding connections between people are among the most important things we can do. I am not certain if those contacts by themselves promote world peace but they do create a sense of kinship which is valuable. Contact with people from outside our communities brings fresh witness to the goings on in the world that I find much more satisfying than using the news media.
I have been the recipient of great random acts of kindness as a traveler independent of Servas. I love the idea of being able to return some of that kindness through organized Servas experiences. Servas offers somewhat random access to people who have gotten themselves out into the world. My experience has shown me that the act of being “out there” is the first step in having wonderful things to happen. I appreciate the opportunity to give back some in measure of the kindness and opportunity I have experienced.
Rick would be delighted if you visited him!