By from Hope Finckelstein, member since 1985, based in Anchorage, Alaska
We asked Hope if we could publish the story on her Letter of Introduction (LOI), that inspired us all when we read it several months ago. She heartily agreed:
"As a college student, I traveled Servas to Europe. Before I visited Freiburg I called ahead. When Otto the host answered, he asked me, "Are you a Jew?" Shocked and frightened, I almost hung up the phone but my gut told me not to. He explained he was delighted to me come and looked forward to sharing his Judaica library. That visit changed my life. Otto talked until 5 am sharing stories of his childhood, getting swept up in the Hitler youth movement and how he "never had better breakfasts" than when he was an American POW. Until that time, I equated "Nazis" with monsters. I couldn't imagine human beings, like myself. As I listened intently to this gentle, German grandfather offering his slice of history aside the best black forest cake ever my heart swelled with deep compassion. Human to human, we time traveled Servas and breathed peace. Since then, my family & I have enjoyed Servas hosts in Spain, Israel & Costa Rica."
Hope supplied this statement to go with the post:
"I’m sure Otto and his wife have passed, since this visit happened 35 years ago. This experience transformed me to be a global citizen. In this moment of global crisis, the Servas stories and relationships remind us of our solidarity with our international friends. Thank you Servas for facilitating global solidarity." - March 20th, 2020