Aims and Background

Servas Aims

Servas Australia is a branch of Servas  International (SI), a non-profit organisation operated by volunteers in over one hundred countries in all continents.

The aims of Servas, as set out in its charter, incorporated in Switzerland, in 1948, are:

“to help build world peace, goodwill and understanding by providing deeper, more-personal contact with people of other cultures and backgrounds, at grass-roots level, to share the hosts’ life and concern on social and international problems, their interests in creative activities and mutual responsibility for their fellows.”

Servas was conceived in 1948 by an American student, Bob Luitweiler, while he was attending a Folk High School in Denmark. Bob, with his fellow-students, set up a list of people world wide who, at grass-roots level, had in common a desire for world peace, built on better understanding and tolerance between peoples.

Servas is a non-profit, non-political, inter-faith or no faith, inter-racial, and international co-operative system of hosts and travellers, established to help build world peace, goodwill and understanding by promoting opportunities for deeper, more-personal contacts among people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Visitors are invited to share in home and community life, social and international concerns, interests and mutual responsibility for their fellows.

Servas is dedicated to understanding and mutual tolerance of perceived differences, and universal peace.

Servas is committed to the belief that people can be bound in the spirit of love and reverence for life, to social responsibility, and to the recognition of human rights everywhere.

Servas seeks to implement these principles by providing opportunities for travellers and hosts to come together to learn by first-hand experience to build bridges of understanding and true friendship. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“With every true friendship we build more-firmly the foundation
On which the peace of the whole world rests.
Thought by thought act by act, with every breath, we build the
Kingdom of non-violence that is the true home of the spirit of man.”

The original motto of the student group which called itself “peace builders” was “work-study-travel”, and their aim primarily was to seek exchange opportunities for young people in each of these three fields of activity, in countries other than their own, with a view to providing opportunities to broaden their horizons and to extend their understanding of other peoples. The name “peace builders”, was changed at the 1952 conference of Servas-International to “Servas”, a word derived from “ni servas” which is the Esperanto for “we serve”.

Servas is not just a low-cost hospitality organisation.  It is a powerful movement towards the exchange of ideas between friends, for the building of peace through better understanding of, and mutual tolerance of, perceived differences.

Hosts and travellers are encouraged to spend time together for this understanding to develop, so that enlightened, enriching, deep and lasting relationships are established.

Servas: non mula, sed multum,  “quality, not quantity”