A Global Gathering
The Friendship Force International 2011 World Conference brought together 288 participants from 23 countries around the world. We gathered in the multicultural city of Hamburg, Germany, to celebrate our common mission and learn from one another.
The Friendship Force of Saitama, Japan, was recognized with the Roadrunner Award for the club with the largest delegation travelling the longest distance, with 21 delegates and 5,594 miles (9,002 km). Delegates enjoyed a special presentation by Shiva Shrestha and Himmat Lekali of the Friendship Force of Nepal.
Throughout the conference a secret panel of friendly delegates were taking note of the smiling faces. At the closing plenary, they presented two Friendliest Awards to Shiva Shrestha of FF Nepal and Hiroko Kato of FF Leuven, Belgium.
An Authentic Hamburg Experience
Our conference host club, the Friendship Force of Hamburg, put a great effort into making sure the delegates got to experience the best of northern German culture. They arranged a variety of excellent tours to introduce the delegates to Hamburg and the surrounding area.
On Sunday evening, another 100 guests from around Germany joined the delegates for a gala with a Hanseatic theme. FFI President George Brown was pleased to honor Christian and Heidi Mueller of FF Hamburg with a Lifetime Commitment Award. In addition to Christian’s club leadership over the years, the two of them have hosted 108 ambassadors in their home.
The next day, FF Hamburg brought the delegates to the iconic St. Michel’s Church, where everyone admired the Baroque architecture and the exquisite music of the church’s organs. Delegates were then treated to a special welcome by the mayor in the magnificent city hall, followed by a reception.
Learning and Leadership
The World Conference is a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning from one another. Delegates attended four workshop sessions, choosing among 16 topics presented by FFI staff, board members, and club and exchange leaders. (Click “presentations” in the yellow menu bar above for more.)
Inspiration for the Future
FFI President George Brown presented an exciting “by the numbers” summary of the Friendship Force today. (Click on “Photos and Videos” in the yellow menu bar above to watch.) Then he encouraged us all to think about the future of the Friendship Force and to get to work building that future today!
Themed exchanges are playing a big part in increasing hosting and attracting new members. George Brown presented a video that explains the role themed exchanges play in the Friendship Force. Click on “Photos and Videos” to watch.
At the closing session, Mr. James Morikawa gave a special invitation to next year’s conference: Hiroshima for Friendship and Peace, the Friendship Force International 35th World Conference. The conference will be held October 30 to November 3, 2012, in Hiroshima, Japan.
A Volunteer Effort
At each World Conference, FFI recognizes two clubs and two volunteers for achieving excellence in such areas as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements. The 2011 Outstanding Volunteers are Sandy Gourdine of FF Florida Suncoast and Jennie Dyson of FF Cornwall. The 2011 Outstanding Clubs are FF Western North Carolina, USA, and FF Tuxtla-Gutierrez, Mexico. Click here to read the award citations.
FFI would like to extend a special thank you to FF Hamburg for their hard work and dedication. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave presentations and served on panels.
After the conference 90 delegates were home-hosted by 11 German clubs. Thank you to FF Bavaria Nuernberg-Erlangen, Cottbus, Freiburg, Halle-Saale, Hamburg, Kiel, Luebeck, Rheinhessen, Schwerin, Varel and Vogtland.
Join us next year for the Friendship Force International 35th World Conference in Hiroshima, Japan, October 30 to November 3, 2012!!