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Global Quest For Local LETS
Copyright � James Taris

8. Knowledge Interchange Network (XIC)

Xavier and Alicia inspect their digital camera shots.

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 participants)
- a shiatzu lesson given by the local Shiatzu expert (about10-12 partricipants).

Servas - Free International Accommodation

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 world peace.

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 Budapest, Hungary
- 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 Servas members.

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.

This article is taken from the ebook,
Global Quest for Local LETS

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