Reflecting back upon my own experience, and in talking with other Servas Members, it seems reasonable to conclude that most of us joined Servas because we truly wanted to meet other people, Of course, most travelers don’t have to join Servas to meet other people. They can easily meet the staff at the hostels and hotels, the servers at the bars and restaurants, the tour guides, and they can quite often meet other Americans at the resorts. So why join Servas?
Servas Travelers know that there is a different quality of experience to be enjoyed from meeting people who’s livelihood is not dependent upon catering to the tourist trade. Servas Travelers find deep life affirming value in cultural exchange. As Servas members travel and meet others, we truly want to learn about their lives, their families, their dreams and aspirations, and their cultures. Servas members want more than the superficial tourist experience.
A wonderful thing about Servas members. We are not just takers, but we are also givers. We believe in and treasure the concept of exchange in cultural exchange. For some of us, it may not have always been that way. I admit that when I joined Servas oh so long ago, the idea of having complete strangers come and stay in my home was totally bonkers. But after meeting so many people that opened their doors, opened their homes and families, and opened their hearts to me, I was forever changed. Servas members are not strangers, but members of our very large extended family.
Maybe we all don’t have time, or space, to be an overnight Host. Family, or personal, considerations, or the limitations of our home may not allow us to provide lodging for Travelers at that moment. Being a Day Host allows each of us to fully embrace the service in Servas. If a second cousin that I’ve never met were to be passing through town, most likely I’d find time, an hour -or a few, to meet and chat. Just who is this member of my extended family? We may never see each other again, but for a brief moment in time, we talk, we laugh, we share bits of our lives. We are family.
So exactly what does a ‘Day Host’ do?
A Day Host knows what it is like to be a visitor in a new place. The anxiety, confusion, uncertainty of arriving someplace new without any idea of what to expect. A Day Host may at times meet Travelers for coffee, lunch, or dinner - chatting and exchanging the essence of who we are. A Day Host may offer tips and suggestions about what to see, where to go, and what to do. A Day Host is like that distant cousin -someone with an unspoken bond that welcomes you into their life for a brief moment. A Day Host may coordinate with local Hosts and offer to supplement a Traveler’s experience when the Host is busy with work and family.
Even when traveling within one’s on country, there are vast cultural differences to be explored. Consider contacting a Day Host during your next trip to visit family and get a different perspective of the area.
I encourage you to embrace being a Day Host, to become a cultural ambassador. Share brief vignettes of your lives, share your tips about the area around you, share your special places off the beaten path -share an hour -or several. A Day Host is about caring and sharing, about service to others. And that’s the essence of Servas.
Does your membership Status include ‘Day Host’?