Xavier, my Spanish host
from LETS Girona, is a very creative and caring individual. An architect
by profession, he is totally obessed with environmental issues helping
people. Two young graphic designers make a constant appearance in
his well equipped computer studio, which features the latest graphic
design software and twin monitor screens (if you're into graphic design
you'll appreciate this feature).
But his current passion
is XIC, or Knowledge Interchange Network (its English translation).
XIC is a local information exchange system, not unlike LETS in principle.
It was originally formed in 1992, but only lasted for 5 years. Fortunately
it was reformed in 1999, and Xavier discovered it the next year. Since
then he's been an integral part of the management group (of 5-6 people),
which helps its 100 members (only about 40 active) exchange their
expertise in a free and friendly manner.
Membership is free, but
restricted (for obvious reasons) to people in the local community
of Girona. The web sites are very professional: www.fundaciosergi.org:nuke
(new site) and www.imagicweb.com:xic (old site), but unfortunately
(for outsiders) only available in the Catalan language (NE Spain region).
So far, some of the exchanges
which have proved successful have been:
- a bushwalking trip to the mountains (about 12 participants)
- a Ratafia (alcoholic drink) preparation lesson (given by a local
grandmother) involving the mixture of 40 different plants (about 20
- a shiatzu lesson given by the local Shiatzu expert (about10-12 partricipants).
Servas - Free International
Alicia, the other half
of my Spanish hosts from LETS Girona, has recently become addicted
to Servas (like an International LETS Accommodation Directory).
This is an organisation
which was established by a Danish man about 50 years ago to promote
Basically, it gives its
members free international accommodation with other Servas members
for a period of 2 days. This is just long enough to get acquainted
with families in a foreign country and experience a different culture
and lifestyle. Longer stays are usually negotiable if the visitors
agree to help out with household chores and the like (sounds more
and more like LETS all the time!).
In the last year (their
first year with Servas) Alicia and Xavier have already hosted 4 guests:
- an 18 y.o. girl from
- a Swedish couple (52 and 44) and their 15 y.o. daughter
- Katia, a 28 y.o. girl from Berlin, Germany, and
- Diana, a 58 y.o. woman from Israel.
Alicia has been pleasantly
surprised by the quality of her guests (especially the Swedish couple
- members of Servas for 20 years - who did EVERYTHING for her) and
supposes that it's due to the fact that they are also hosts for other
There are 15,000 Servas
members worldwide, and it only costs 18 euros to become a member (as
long as you can also offer accommodation as well).
For more information, contact
http://www.servas.org/ then click
on the link to your country for specific details.