What is SERVAS?
| With every true friendship we build
more firmly the foundations on which
the peace of the whole world rests. Mahatma Gandhi
SERVAS is …
- … an international, non-governmental organization.
- … based on understanding, tolerance and world peace.
Servas is an international, non-governmental, interracial peace association run in over 100 countries by volunteers. Founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement, Servas International is a non-profit organization working to build understanding, tolerance and world peace. It operates through a network of Servas hosts around the world who are interested in opening their doors to travelers, and, “on the other side of the coin”, many open-minded travelers who want to get to know the heart of the countries they visit. SERVAS INTERNATIONAL has consultative status as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, currently with representation at many of the UN’s hubs of activity. There are over 13,000 Servas “open doors” scattered throughout almost every country in the world.
How does Servas work?
Through SERVAS, travelers have opportunities to meet hosts, their families and friends and join in their everyday life. Where convenient, hosts may offer two nights’ accommodation and invite travelers to share a meal. Names and addresses of hosts appear in annually produced lists which are made available to approved travelers. Servas hosts are just a cross-section of ordinary people.
How do I join?
The only requirement to join SERVAS as a host is the willingness to offer hospitality to travelers of any race and culture. SERVAS encourages travelers to experience other societies more deeply and with more understanding than they would be likely to do as “just plain tourists”. In both cases, you will probably have to meet an experienced Servas member first.
Who do I get in touch with?
Click on Who is Who in the blog, and find the contact person for Indonesia.
The hospitality offered by the “open doors” is the cornerstone of SERVAS. SERVAS hosts offer hospitality to approved travelers of every race, creed and nationality. A host should provide a bed for two nights (or longer, but only at the host’s invitation) and usually invite the traveler to share in the evening meal. The host is not expected to provide transport for the traveler, although some may want to show the traveler places of interest. If the traveler does not present the Letter of Introduction on arrival, the host should ask to see it to make sure it is up to date. The host should keep a record of travelers’ names and addresses in a Visitor Book. The host should explain the ‘rules of the house’ to the traveler. A traveler should ask before using a host’s phone and should pay for all calls. A host should set aside some time to talk with a traveler. If it is not convenient for a host to have a traveler, the host should feel free to say ‘no’. In such a case it may be possible to suggest the names of alternative hosts. Hosts should try to answer letters from travelers asking to stay, especially those that enclose an International Reply Coupon. Hosts who are not able to provide overnight accommodation may wish to join as Day Hosts. A Day Host will find a convenient time to meet the traveler, may provide information or a guided tour, or a work-place visit or a meal, or just find time for a chat together.
To Become a Servas Host or Day Host
To become a Servas Host or Day Host, please contact a Servas coordinator in your country or National Secretary or Moderator. You will receive a reply including a Host Registration Form for you to complete. You will also be invited to meet with a SERVAS host in your area for an ‘orientation’ meeting. This is the chance for you to learn more of the history of SERVAS and the way it works at both National and local levels. In time your name will appear in your country’s Host List which is published each year. Hosts normally re-register each year and this is the chance for fresh information in the Host List, such as addresses and phone numbers. Some countries charge a special annual subscription for members of SERVAS. SERVAS hosts receive copies of the SERVAS International News, local Newsletters (if published) and notices of meetings (if these are held).
To become a SERVAS traveler, please contact a Servas coordinator in your country or National Secretary or Moderator.In either case the National Secretary in your own country or the International General Secretary will send you further information and will arrange an interview for you. It is important to understand that no-one can be approved as a traveler in SERVAS without an interview. You should take your passport to the interviewer together with a passport type photograph. You will be told the amount of the travel fee and to whom it should be paid. Each country fixes its own travel fee. Remember that the officers of SERVAS are all volunteers who have to make time for extra work. Finally you should allow plenty of time for joining SERVAS (4 weeks if possible) before your departure date. This is to ensure enough time to write letters (or make calls) to the hosts you would like to visit.
A traveler must be 18 years of age or over. All travelers must be interviewed to make sure they are responsible, open minded and likely to be a good member of SERVAS. When approved, the traveler receives a Letter of Introduction which is signed, stamped and dated and is the traveler’s ‘passport’ in Servas. It is valid for one year. The Letter of Introduction is shown on arrival in a host’s home. If possible, Host Lists are provided for the countries a traveler will be visiting. A deposit is required for Host Lists, and this is refunded when the lists are returned together with a travel report. If a Host List cannot be provided for a particular country, the traveler will be given the address and telephone number or a contact in that country from whom a list can be obtained. If writing for a list, a copy of the letter of introduction should be included. Host Lists should be returned at the end of a trip so that they are available for other travelers.
At the end of a trip, the traveler should write a short report for the National Secretary, listing the hosts that have been stayed with, noting any changes of address or telephone number and giving advice that may be useful to other travelers.