U. S. Servas

promoting world peace one conversation at a time…


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Meet Douglas!

Douglas is a host and interviewer in Houston, Texas!

What is your Servas background?  Had friends who were members in the 1980s, joined in the early 1990s when I returned to my home which had space for visitors.

How long you have been an interviewer? 10 or more years

Where have you traveled?  More than 80 nations, mostly using the network of hostels

What is one great memory you have from Servas (as a traveler, host, or 
interviewer)?  The eruption of glee and giggles from a group of Chinese visitors upon seeing the Beer Can House in Houston, a folk art contraption covered with flattened beer cans and with wind chimes made of old pull tops.

What hobbies do you enjoy?  Politics, movies, stamp collecting

What is one of your favorite quotes?  Politics and travel are broadening.  Through travel you learn that others do not live the same as you do, and through poltics that they do not think the same as you do.

Why are you involved with Servas, and why do you think that Servas is 
important?  Building peace, one friendship at a time.

Photo in the new Hostelling International-Houston, named for my late friend Morty Rich.


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Meet Alan!

Alan Lieberman is a host and interviewer in Paradise, California! Visit Paradise and connect with Alan.

What is your Servas background? My wife and I joined Servas as travelers in 1993, when we took an extended trip through western Europe with our three children .

How long you have been an interviewer? Since our return from our trip in 1993.

Where have you traveled? In the 1970’s, we lived in Micronesia and traveled extensively in Europe and in Asia.  With Servas, we traveled in Europe in 1993 (also in 2005) and in Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S.

What is one great memory you have from Servas (as a traveler, host, or interviewer)? We stayed with a Servas couple in a small town in the Czech Republic outside of Prague in 1993.  The couple had been teachers but because of their (minimal) involvement in the Prague Spring of 1968, they were unable to continue to teach.  The woman worked in a factory and the man drove a truck for many years.  With the downfall of the Communist regime, they were again able to teach and were very active again in teaching pursuits and also were now able to travel, and were trying to make up for so much lost time.  The description of their experiences and those times was truly remarkable.  Our two older children (17 and 14) stayed with their relatives nearby (who didn’t speak English) and my wife and I and our younger daughter stayed with the couple.  (Note: this was one of many wonderful Servas experiences.)

What hobbies do you enjoy? Gardening (organic fruit orchard), traveling.

Why are you involved with Servas, and why do you think that Servas is important? Servas is a wonderful way to get to meet people and to learn about the places you are visiting.  We have also enjoyed the (unfortunately too few) Servas guests we have hosted.


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Kashoff’s Panama Experience!

During our most recent travel,

We heard the strangest sounds as we rode into the town of Ocú in Panama. As we got closer, we recognized it as an animal sound, perhaps dogs– in pain. Dave said it sounded like a cacophony of chickens. I thought it was more like yelping wolves. We stopped to listen in front of the building the sound was emanating from. Although it was unmarked, except for an old faded sign that said “Hamburguesas”, and even considering the clamor pouring out the door, we had the sense it was a bar.

Ocú is a small town, known for its hat makers. We visited one in his home, where tools lay on a table and hats hung on the wall, and he showed us the fine workmanship in the weave. His wife gave us each a plastic bag filled with frozen coconut milk and we rocked awhile on their front porch. Dave wanted to buy one of these light colored hats but I thought their round brims seemed a bit goofy looking. But they provide relief from the sun for the men who ride horseback on the cattle ranches dominating the Azuero Peninsula. The men there all wear them, including those we saw when we peaked in the door the noises were coming from. “Go on in and see what the racket is about” I coaxed Dave.

First he walked over to a teenager who was sitting on a bench across the street, and asked him what was going on in there. The boy told Dave not to go in: “barracho”, drunk, he said. But I did not understand the conversation, and therefore did not discourage Dave from going in to the bar. From the outside, where I was waiting with the bikes, I watched as Dave was immediately surrounded by 3 or 4 men. The waiting seemed longer and longer, as I became more and more nervous when more guys gathered around Dave. Closer. Soon their arms were draped around his shoulders, and the howling hadn’t stopped. And they were drunk. At least some of them were, and others were happily on their way towards some state of oblivion. One was so inebriated he didn’t even notice when the bottle he was holding slipped from his hand and shattered on the floor.

They were not just drinking: they were drinking while practicing the art of “Gritando” and had gathered around Dave because they saw him take a photo, a video actually, to capture the sound, and they were soon upon him to take more pictures, more movies. We learned this form of “communication” is called“Gritar” (pronounced greetAR), or Gritando and it is a call and response that was historically used for greeting each other in the fields. It reminded us of Swiss Yodeling, or hog calling in the American South. (Sooweeee)! I think is how it goes). So Dave captured some video of these guys, watch and listen to them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kashoff/sets/72157630559379566/

Panama was also beautiful and interesting– green mountains, palm islands with white sand beaches, welcoming people and of course, the Panama Canal.

 

-Judy and Dave Kashoff


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Meet Carol!

Visit Carol in Tuscon, Arizona!

What is your Servas background?  My folks joined in the late 60s, so I’ve known about it for a long time.  I joined as a host in 89.  I’ve done a little SERVAS traveling, to Australia in 98, and some US visits since then.  I “inherited” being an interviewer, when my mother was no longer able to do it, we needed another interviewer in Tucson, so I took it on.

How long you have been an interviewer?  It was 1998 or earlier.

Where have you traveled?  Australia, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe

What is one great memory you have from Servas (as a traveler, host, or interviewer)?  We had some travelers from Austria, they arrived as scheduled, just in time for dinner.  When I walked in from the patio with the platter containing the meat I’d been grilling they exclaimed “You have meat in your garden?”.  We laughed and I explained the BBQ grill.  Later that evening they were showing us pictures of their home and I expressed some surprise at the size of the building, and they laughed and explained that the barn and house are all one building.  For me, that is some of the essence of SERVAS, the sharing of our lives and learning new things.

 What hobbies do you enjoy?  Dancing, reading, cooking,

Why are you involved with Servas, and why do you think that Servas is important?  I’m involved for 2 reasons, one because I believe in the purpose of promoting peace , and the other because I enjoy meeting people, and think getting to know the people is the best way to get to know an area. I think SERVAS is important I believe getting to know people is the best way to promote peace. People can dislike a country because of something in the politics or policies they don’t agree with, but it is much harder to dislike a person for their countries politics or policies. And once you to get to know someone its harder to paint the all occupants of the country or region they are from with that broad critical brush.


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Meet Rex!

What is your Servas background?  20 years as an active host and traveler.

How long you have been an interviewer?  17 years.

Where have you traveled?  I have stayed with Servas hosts in Austria, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Uruguay, Wales, and the U.S. (I have traveled to many more countries and areas.)

What is one great memory you have from Servas (as a traveler, host, or interviewer)?  20 years ago, my family was hosted by a family in Japan. Since then, each family has stayed with the other 3 times, and individual members have stayed 5-6 times with more to come. We have become great friends. They were also the first host to invite us to stay longer once we were there, and we accepted.

What hobbies do you enjoy?  Movies, reading, cooking, traveling, conversation, and writing.

What is one of your favorite quotes?  “Nothing is a complete waste; it can always serve as a bad example!” Author unknown

Why are you involved with Servas, and why do you think that Servas is important?  Nations are built from individuals, and if enough individuals from two countries can get along then, so too can their respective nations. Being a people person and a traveler (rather than a tourist), I simply like hosting and exchanging ideas, so hosting people from my own country is just fine too. After all, the US melting pot is a lot like a large number of smaller countries.

FYI, each month, I post a 4-8-page essay to my personal blog, which is reachable viawww.RexJaeschke.com. As you will see, one of them (Jan 2010) was about homestays, and a number of others have travel-related content. The series on “What is Normal” likely will also interest would-be travelers.

Regards,
Rex