Guess who’s coming for dinner tonight?
A Servas experience by Nadine & Georg Lego
We discovered Servas through a friend just before my husband and I decided to take a year off and travel around the world.
In 1 year we visited 19 countries. Servas gave us the chance to share many members’ lives and to discover the inside stories of so many places.
In Buenos Aires for instance we stayed with 4 hosts. All living in different neighborhoods which gave us a real feel for the city. One host, Gaby, invited me to a dance class and a meditation class. With Anna and her boyfriend, we went bicycling in the city. Another host we visited, Daniel, lives in a very special place Tigre. Tigre is located in the north of greater Buenos Aires and lies on the Parana Delta. The landscape is shaped by the many streams from the delta. Daniel had invited us and we did not realize what a treat it was! We met him in BA and from there drove to Tigre to discover that his house is sitting in the middle of the delta – that his neighborhood is not made of streets but small streams and canals. We hopped in his boat and speed to his house. Sharing experience like this is only possible with an international network of friends.
On our way to Africa, we started feeling a bit antsy and looked for possibilities to volunteer on projects. I had noticed in the Servas International Newsletter that the Malawi chapter was very active. So I contacted Demelza, the “firecracker” national secretary who developed partnerships with local non-profit organizations and offers volunteering to Servas visitors. We spent a month in Blantyre, Malawi and worked on 2 projects with the community while staying with 6 local families members of Servas. One project involved the beautification of a youth center using peace messages. We motivated the team of volunteers and helped them structure their efforts. The work is theirs! (See photos). It was a valuable experience for all and gave us a sense of accomplishment.
Our working involvement and spending free time with the families was the perfect balance.
We ended our world tour with Taiwan and Japan. Both countries have very active members. Taiwan was a surprise: as their motto says “the world in one island”. That maybe explains why the Taiwanese are so welcoming and open to foreigners. We stayed with multiple hosts in Taipei and around the island. We discovered a culture closely related to Japan (creative design, architecture) due to their shared history.
So Japan as our next and last stop on our trip was a natural destination. Japan being known as a foreign culture to most westerners and closed to the outside (due to a history of isolation) is best visited while staying with hosts. Our exchanges with host families were instrumental to understand some aspects of the Japanese traditions and culture so we felt at ease. Our experiences with Servas hosts around the world was a positive and an enriching human experience. Relying on an international network of friends brought the unfamiliar more familiar and helped us build understanding, tolerance and world peace.
If you’d like to know more and see additional photos about our adventure, visit us at www.awonderfulmind.com