History

The idea was conceived at a Folk High School in Denmark in 1948-1949 by Bob Luitweiler, a young American. His hope was to prevent another disastrous war, through people obtaining mutual understanding of each other via ‘grass roots’ contact in each other’s homes. The original name of the organisation was ‘Peacebuilders’ but was changed to ‘Servas’ at its conference in 1952. Servas, a word derived from ‘ni servas’ is an Esperanto word meaning ‘we serve’ in the sense ‘we serve peace’. At the 1972 conference, ‘Servas International’ was registered in Switzerland as a Non-Governmental organisation and is now represented at the United Nations in Geneva, New York and Vienna.The first Servas hosts were recruited in Denmark but the idea soon spread to other countries by word of mouth and through pacifist organisations. Committees in several countries collated lists of hosts and with these the first Servas travellers ventured out. To start with, most hosts and travellers were pacifists, often heavily involved in active peace work. The organisation owes much of its early success to a group of dedicated pacifists in England who – amongst other things – produced a broadsheet to keep members up-to-date on peace matters. As time progressed, it became clear that Servas could not survive as an organisation for the few, and members were recruited outside pacifist circles. It was accepted that Servas should work across all boundaries, nationalities, races, politics, religion, ages, cultures and interests.

Servas provides opportunities to get to know countries from inside and to find a home in a foreign land. As hosts we can receive the world into our homes.

Servas Australia with over 400host families and individuals is but one branch of Servas International, with more than 15,500 host families and individuals in more than 125 countries on 6 continents.

Details of the many countries involved in Servas can be found >>here<<.


>>Interviews with Bob Luitweiler the founder of Servas<<