Learn About Servas
Servas is a non-profit, non-political, inter-faith and interracial system of hosts and travelers, whose goal is to promote peace and understanding between people by providing opportunities for deeper, more personal contacts between different cultures. It offers approved travelers of all ages the opportunity to meet and/or have short stays (normally 2 nights) with hosts in the country they're visiting.
Through Servas, travelers have opportunities to meet hosts, their families and friends in their everyday life. Servas hosts have opportunities to bring travelers from around the world into their homes and lives.
HistoryAfter the devastation of World War II, American conscientious objector Bob Luitweiler and his friends in Europe and the United States believed that to build strong foundations for world peace, concerned people needed to meet and learn from one another. In Denmark in 1949 this informal group formed a small “Peacebuilders” team.
Volunteers in northwestern Europe offered free hospitality to approved foreign travelers. In grassroots fashion, staffed completely by volunteers, the movement spread. By traveling in an “open door” style, they believed that people would work together to develop new intercultural and service programs in their home communities.
At the first international meeting in 1952, the network was renamed Servas, meaning “we serve” in Esperanto, a language invented in the 19th century to be a universal language. 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of this remarkable organization in which the 15,000 members of Servas have successfully worked together to spread their message of cultural understanding, diversity and tolerance in over 120 countries.
Servas InternationalThe heart of Servas is Servas International. It is a federation of Servas National Groups, with its registered office in Switzerland. United States Servas is one of 78 voting members, which determine the rules and procedures that all Servas National Groups follow. About every three years a General Assembly is held, usually in conjunction with an international conference. An executive committee of international officers and regional coordinators elected at international Servas conferences carries out the day-to-day administration of Servas International. The Servas International website Servas.org has more information.
Visit the Servas.org website for more information.
A new and very important role for Servas International is the Members section of the Servas.org website, known as Servas Online. This holds the Host and Traveler profiles of most Servas members worldwide. First introduced in 2017 under the leadership of Servas France, US Servas began moving its member data to the new system in January 2020, and has completed the transition of all Letters of Introduction to digital form. For more on how to use Servas.org see our Support Page.
Servas & United NationsSupport for the United Nations in building a world free of violence, poverty and inequality is basic to both Servas International (SI) and US Servas. Since 1973 SI has had consultative status as an international non governmental organization, iNGO, with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations. The consultative status makes it possible for SI to be active at the premises of the United Nations in New York City in USA, Geneva in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria.
SI has up to five Representatives at UN Headquarters in New York, in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Vienna, Austria; all SI reps have annual passes to enter UN facilities. Of the five Representatives at the UN in New York, four are US Servas members.
Our UN Representatives promote advocacy of Sustainable Development Goals; facilitate attendance at UN conferences; submit written and oral statements and sponsor side events on human right issues; and work with other NGOs to submit statements on women’s empowerment and nuclear non-proliferation.
US Servas is active in supporting the United Nations, including the 2019 Civil Society Conference held in Salt Lake City.