Welcome Travel for Good Member Resources


Browse all exchanges

FFI Promotional Material

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Quarterly Newsletter - First Edition


In this edition:

- Introducing 40th Celebration Dinners for World Friendship Day
- Site of 2017 World Conference named top place to visit
- Market Research Update on FFI’s Future
- Collecting stories for 40th Anniversary
- Member News: New Travel Insurance Provider and Board Meeting Wrap-Up
- and more!

Dear friends around the world,

We are thrilled to introduce to you the first official eNewsletter of the Friendship Force. This email, chock-full of stories, quotes, and important news and updates, will be delivered to your email inbox once a quarter. We hope this will keep you informed with what is going on with FFI worldwide, and that is is also something you will share with anyone you know who wants to learn about our wonderful organization and supports our mission of promoting global understanding across the barriers that separate people.

We hope you enjoy this inaugural edition, and please use the “Share” button below to pass it on to anyone else who you think would want to discover Friendship Force!

In friendship,

Kaitlyn Ranney                     
Director of Marketing and Communications   

Maggie Smith
Communications Manager



English Language Learners to New Zealand

August/September 2016

Our featured exchange this quarter took place in August, with a diverse group of 20 ambassadors from the Friendship Force clubs of Nara, Hiroshima, Western Tokyo, Saitama, Aichi, and Tottori in Japan journeying to FF Whangarei and FF Gisborne in New Zealand on an “English Language Learners” exchange.

The group included two elementary school students with their mother, who particularly liked the exchange and made fast friends with local school students. As one ambassador explained, “When they were not able to express their feelings in English, their mother helped and supported them.”

The Japanese elementary school teachers on the trip thoroughly enjoyed visiting New Zealand schools and sharing time with local school teachers, exchanging opinions and best practices. The collaborative discussions between the ambassadors and hosts were effective for both beginning and advanced learners, and the camaraderie between the ambassadors strengthened the overall knowledge and learning of all participants.

As one pleased ambassador described, “This was a wonderful program that will be worthwhile all for Friendship Force members and for younger generations who want to learn English conversation with experienced hosts in New Zealand.”

Celebrate World Friendship Day
Join us in Manchester for our 40th Anniversary
Share a Friendship Force Memory
image image image

Friendship Force’s 40th Anniversary officially commences on March 1, 2017 - World Friendship Day - and we can’t wait to celebrate! We want you to kick off your own celebrations!

Registration for the 40th Anniversary Conference in Manchester opens in December! Read all the reasons Manchester has been named one of the world’s top places to visit!

Friendship Force members around the world, we want to hear from you! Head over to the Stories of Friendship page to share memories from FFI’s earlier years for our 40th Anniversary!

Market Research by Debra Semans
CEO Blog: Board Meeting Updates
New Preferred Travel Insurance
image image image

Friendship Force International recently completed marketing research to gain insight into the optimal target market for new Friendship Force members. View an overview of the findings here!

Ahead of a more formal year-end review, we wanted to share with you all a summary of the most recent Board of Directors meeting that took place in Atlanta, from October 14 to 17, 2016.

Friendship Force is excited to announce a change in our preferred insurance provider. In addition to offering travel insurance for our clubs in the US, we are now able to provide Travel Protection Plans for all of our members worldwide!

In Case You Missed It:

- 40th Anniversary Celebration at Sea
- Morocco World Conference Summary (with NEW photos!)
- Manchester World Conference Invitation


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

“The Other Side of the Mountain” Donation Gift

Friendship Force mourns the recent loss of Charlene Terrell, long-time member of FF Big Canoe, Georgia and author of the Friendship Force story, “The Other Side of the Mountain: Bridging the Great Divide.”

In honoring her memory and passion, in lieu of flowers, Charlene’s family has requested contributions to FFI. To further remember Charlene and her significant contributions to the Friendship Force family, we are offering a copy of her book with any donation amount to our Legacy Fund made in Charlene’s memory.

Please provide your information on the form here. Books may be purchased by donation to Friendship Force in any amount you choose, plus shipping.

image image


















Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Travel Safety Remains Priority

With the news full of the threat from IS and many governments expanding their travel cautions, it’s understandable that people feel nervous about traveling. It’s very important, as it has always been, to be thorough in researching our destination and to exercise caution anytime when we travel.

The staff at FFI are committed to your safety; we monitor governments’ sites and news resources, and talk to people on the ground so we can stay up-to-date on your exchange and conference destinations. While guarantees are impossible, know that we would not send you anywhere we wouldn’t go ourselves. It rarely happens but when travel to a destination is banned we always act quickly to cancel a program and notify the participants.

Anytime you have questions, FFI is here for you. Feel free to also check in with your hosts or the host ED to get their perspective on your destination. Very often it’s business as usual where they live, and they will be able to allay your concerns.

Check out award-winning U.S. travel journalist Wendy Perrin’s very educational article from March. The article is written for U.S. readers but the overall message is relevant to all of us, no matter what country we call home.


Friday, January 15, 2016

FFI World Conference 2016 Update! Welcome to Marrakesh!

FFI World Conference: September 16 to 19, 2016


Undecided on attending the 2016 Conference? Frequently asked questions - answered!

In 2015, TripAdvisor released a list of the most popular travel destinations in the world , and Marrakesh took the No. 1 spot!  Come see for yourself what makes this intoxicating city so very special, and join your FF friends from all around the world at our 39th annual World Conference.


The FFI World Conference will take place at the Kenzi Farah hotel in the fashionable L’Hivernage district, within walking distance of Marrakech’s UNESCO-listed medina. Relax by the pool, sample traditional Moroccan cuisine in the hotel’s restaurants, enjoy the hammam spa, and gather with friends at the piano bar for live music every night. The discounted price of 1300 Moroccan Dirham per double room per night includes a breakfast buffet. Each guest room is air-conditioned with satellite TV, Wifi access, a minibar and private bathroom.


The Conference Fee of $375 USD includes: our World Bazaar; three plenary sessions with speakers, entertainment and coffee breaks; a belly-dancing class; two lunches at the hotel; our popular gala banquet; and workshops on Friendship Force related topics and topics of local cultural significance, such as cooking and argan oil production.

Additional Options include: accommodation at the Kenzi Farah Hotel with breakfast; seven different half-day tours; an opportunity to see the sunrise by hot air balloon; pre- and post-conference tours around the country; and pre- and post-conference homestays in Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. All options are available for an additional fee.


FFI’s mission is accomplished in many ways, one of which is home hospitality. Another is by bringing our annual conference to places where we have something to learn as well as something to share.  By having this year’s conference in Morocco, with its predominantly Muslim population, we have the unique opportunity to learn more about the people and the culture at a time when greater understanding and acceptance are critical to the world.  In the coming months we’ll be looking for ways to pursue our mission through our activities in Marrakesh, and we hope that you will join us in Morocco for this very special and necessary endeavour!

Online registration is now open! Click the link at the top of the page to reserve your spot in Marrakesh!

Next year is the 40th anniversary of Friendship Force. There’s lots to celebrate and be thankful for, so come join us in England for our 2017 FFI world conference, with post-conference programs all around Europe. Conference events will be at the luxurious Midland Hotel in Manchester, August 25 - 27 (on-site registration on August 24). Further details will be announced this September.



Monday, October 26, 2015

FFI World Conference 2016: Marrakesh, Morocco

September 16-19 (arrival and registration on Sep 15)


Conference Highlights:
Join us for our very first FFI World Conference in Africa!

image - We’ve extended the conference allowing more time with friends and more opportunities to explore beautiful Marrakesh

- Centrally-located accommodations at the Kenzi Farah hotel with its cooling pools and traditional hammam, nestled in 3 hectares of lush palm groves

- Meet FFI’s new President and CEO, Jeremi Snook, at his inaugural conference

- Learn what other clubs are doing with Friendship Force global club updates

image - Expand your Friendship Force knowledge in a variety of workshops, interactive presentations and leadership training

- Exchange ideas with friends from around the world to build a bright future

- Enjoy delightful music and dance performances, representing the different regions and traditions of Morocco

- Learn to cook a traditional tagine or how to make argan oil

- Try a morning belly-dancing class

image - Some workshops, breaks and meals outside under the palm trees (weather permitting)

- A sumptuous Moroccan feast in the 11th century Medina on our optional evening out

- Travel the world all in one night at our World Bazaar, under the stars in the hotel gardens

- Optional half day tours include navigating the maze of souks and the lively Medina, horse drawn carriage rides through Marrakesh’s impressive gardens, watching the sunrise from a hot-air balloon, a historical journey through the old city and her monuments, 18 holes for the golf enthusiast, riding a mule up to a stunning perched lunch spot in the Atlas mountains, and - for the adventurous - a chance to zipline across a 700 foot gorge!

image - FFI’s traditional “World of Friends” gala banquet

- High-profile keynote speaker: “Muslim Women in a Changing and Emerging Morocco”

- Join an exciting pre- and/or post-conference tour around Morocco

- Participate in a post-conference homestay tour program courtesy of The Friendship Force in Morocco

Further details and registration in January

Debbie Powell, World Conference Director, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Urgent Need in Nepal

Dear Friendship Force members around the world:

Most of you are aware of the devastating earthquake in Nepal which struck a little over a week ago, killing thousands and injuring many more. In fact, with so many wounded and homeless, this terrible situation may worsen in the days to come. Although the media attention will lessen, the people’s need for aid and support will be great for a long time to come.

You’ll remember that Friendship Force International does have a club in Nepal, based in Kathmandu. This club is led by Shiva Shrestha who has informed us that he, his family and his members are all unharmed. As a person who has always been committed to humanitarian causes, this crisis has only heightened Shiva’s resolve to help the people of his country who are most affected by the still unfolding disaster.

We on the staff and board of Friendship Force International have felt compelled at this point to help the people of Nepal recover from nature’s impact, and we know many of you are feeling the same way.
Therefore, we are urging our members if they feel they can and want to, to donate to the relief efforts in Nepal.  While there are many reputable organizations currently working on the ground, some of the most useful may be larger international charities such as UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency; WFP (World Food Program); CARE; and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), just to name a few.  But there are hundreds of groups doing good work; and you can find a list and also what they are doing by going to Charity Navigator.

Shiva himself is currently involved with a local organization in Nepal, which is also taking donations.

However, please understand that FFI can neither evaluate nor endorse any particular relief organization. Should you choose to donate, please choose the organization which you feel will make the best use of your gift.

Please also keep in mind that Friendship Force International is legally prohibited from financially sponsoring relief aid efforts. While donations to FFI are always welcome and appreciated, those donations cannot meet the immediate needs of the current situation in Nepal. We hope that one day soon we will be able to arrange a humanitarian exchange to Nepal, but that will come later.

While Friendship Force International is not technically a humanitarian organization, we are a group of people who have heart and who care about the world’s people. Our efforts to help go back, in fact, to the founders of our organization, who coined the phrase ‘Friendship in Action.’ You can see more about our current policy on the issue of disasters here. We look forward to the day when we are once again able to bring an exchange to Nepal to volunteer directly with the people there.

With warm regards and friendship,
Joy E. DiBenedetto, FFI President, along with the FFI staff and Board of Directors


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FFI Needs Capable Leaders to Join the International Board of Directors.

FFI is looking for leaders! Do you know someone with the vision, passion and skills to help us build a successful future for the Friendship Force, at the international level? Are you that person?

The Nominations Committee of the Board of Directors of Friendship Force International invites you to submit nominations for new directors to serve on the FFI board. 

At the Fall 2015 board meeting, four new board members will be elected to a four-year term that will begin January 2016.

Nominees for the FFI Board of Directors should have leadership experience, planning skills and a passion for the Friendship Force. You may nominate yourself or someone else, a Friendship Force member or someone with relevant experience and skills from outside the organization.

The nominating committee will review all nominations carefully. The committee will select a group of finalists and contact them directly for additional information.

To submit a nomination, please review this information, which describes the responsibilities of board membership, and then complete the nominations form no later than May 15, 2015.

We look forward to hearing from you!

If you have any questions, please contact board member Cinda Clark, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

FFI and International Paint Pals Exhibit: My Dream of Peace


Dear Friends,

Last year, our display of children’s artwork at the Sochi Olympics touched thousands of hearts. This year, with your help, we can give children around the world the opportunity to share their dream of peace by sending in their artwork and peace pledges.

You can make this opportunity available to the children in your community by simply passing on this information to your family, local schools, libraries and community centers.

This year’s theme is “My Dream of Peace.”


Two ways to participate:

1. Submit a child’s artwork on the theme of “My Dream of Peace”.

Rules for Participation in the Art Exhibition:
- Artists must be 19 years or younger.
- Paintings may be on any kind of flat paper, no thick board material, cloth, or canvas.
- Size should not exceed 46 x 61 cm (18 x 24 in).
- Artwork must be mailed in, flat or rolled, with no frames or mats. Art cannot be scanned in.
- Sender must pay mailing expenses.
- Artworks must address the theme “My Dream of Peace.”
- Watercolors, oils, acrylics, crayons, markers, pencils, pens, and other techniques are acceptable.
- Paintings created by groups of children are welcomed as well.
- On the back of each painting, please include the name and age of artist, the artist’s home country, and the title of the painting.

2. Submit children’s signed Peace Pledges.
(Children may color in the drawing on the pledge.)

- Click to download the individual pledge.

- Click to download the group pledge for multiple signatures.

Submit the artwork and/or pledges by October 15, 2015. Please mail them to:

Friendship Force International
127 Peachtree Street NE, Ste 501
Atlanta, GA 30303

In return, you can download an electronic certificate which can be printed and awarded to the children who participated. Every artwork we receive will be shared in our online photo album.

- Click here to download the simple certificate.

- Click here to download the more colorful certificate.

The artwork and pledges cannot be returned to you after submission.

You can make a difference.

It’s as easy as downloading this flyer and emailing it to teachers, principals, and others in your community. Be sure to ask them to name your Friendship Force club when they submit, so that we can thank you for your part in this global expression of peace.

We hope you will join us in this opportunity to display the dreams of peace shared by so many children around the world. 

If you have questions or comments, please contact:

Ana Smulski
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

or Linden Longino
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Friday, November 07, 2014

What does the Friendship Force add to your life?

We posted this question on the FFI Facebook page. Here’s what you all had to say!

Rona Potiki, FF Otago: Seeing my own city and surrounds with FF friends, who have enjoyed and shared the experience with me, has been one of the biggest additions to my life over the last 7 years since FF OTAGO first began.

Cheryl Kinberger, FF Louisville: Friendship Force gives me opportunities I never would have thought possible. I can proudly say I have friends all over the world, several with whom we continue to correspond. Now that I’m not working, FF keeps me busy computer-wise just by keeping up with the FFI news & resources, and the many other chapters whose web newsletters I read.

Tressa Youngbear, FF Cedar Rapids-Iowa City: It adds friends, and we feel they are very special to us.

Arifin Mochtar, FF Jakarta: My life would be dull without Friendship Force. Great organization…great programs…great people. Lots of opportunities to see beautiful places and its people. Wonderful ways to create understanding among people of different cultures and contribute to a more friendly world.

Morton Sider, FF Niagara: brings you out into the big world, on the way to Rio as I write this.

Lígia Costa, FF Fortaleza: manter comunicação com antecedência, para tour, exchange, INBOUND, com home stay dos Clubs, interagindo, informando datas comemorativas, happy hours, e mais…....Kiss, Lígia Costa, FForce-Fortaleza-Ce.Brazil.

Boya Marshall, FF Hamburg: Keeps me real busy - but happy! Worldwide friends - real friends, not just ambassadors- what else could I ask for - thanks FFI and their superb staff!

Bonnie Evans, FF Greater Atlanta: Eternal friendships in all corners of the earth.

What does the Friendship Force add to YOUR life? Tell us at facebook.com/friendshipforce!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2015 World Conference: Vancouver, Canada: FULL!


“Building Bridges”

August 28 to 31, 2015
Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel

Hosted by the Friendship Force of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Registration has closed as we have reached capacity.

Unprecedented in the history of the Friendship Force, a little over a month after opening registration, the 2015 World Conference in Vancouver is already at its full capacity.

We are excited and inspired by this level of enthusiasm, and look forward to seeing so many friends in August.

At that point, we have started a waiting list for spaces that open up due to cancellations.

For those of you joining us in Vancouver, you can keep up with our activity on the Official Conference website.

Please send your waiting list requests to Conference Director Pallie Savoie at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Be more than a tourist. Travel for good.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

Cultural exchange students celebrate 10th anniversary

Friendship Force of North Bay celebrated their 10 year anniversary with lots of exciting activities!


10th annual ‘Patriotic Christmas in July’ held at veteran’s facility

The Friendship Force of Baton Rouge traveled to Jackson, Louisiana Saturday, July 26 to honor the war veterans with its 10th annual “Patriotic Christmas in July” Party.


Naturally Speaking: Diversity is the key to stability

Steve Lekwa, director of Story County Conservation in Iowa spoke to Friendship Force about the relationship between nature and agriculture.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

Une histoire d’amitié entre Nouméa et Pointe-á-Pitre

Nine ambassadors from French-speaking Nouméa, New Caledonia spent the first week of June making friends in Pointe-á-Pitre, Guadeloupe, a fellow French-speaking nation.


Reno-Tahoe Friendship Force to host Themed Global Exchange

Members of FF Reno-Tahoe discuss the mission of Friendship Force and how global themed exchanges (more specifically their recent “How Gold and Silver Built the American West”) support the mission of global understanding and universal friendship.


‘Louisiana Rocks’ author Aswell speaks

FF Baton Rouge hosted author Tom Aswell at their quarterly meeting.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

Friendship Force Lincoln members visit New Zealand

A group of 21 members FF Lincoln (and 4 other clubs) visited New Zealand where they participated in a variety of activities including a trip to a glow worm cave, penguin viewing, and a sheep shearing demonstration.


The Friendship Force of Hobart (Tasmania) officially received in Coloma

Ambassadors from Hobart, Tasmania, along with some Australian friends, visited with new friends in FF Brussels-Pajot on their exchange to Belgium.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Important Info for US & Canada: Travel Guard Rates and New Field Representatives

New products and rates from Travel Guard Insurance

Rates have increased for Travel Guard insurance, but along with this increase comes a wider range of products from which to choose. The insurance policy called “Vacation and Cruise” is the one most similar to our previous plan, and it is NOT based on age. The annual plan is also an option for members in any state where it is available. FFI requires that all ambassadors purchase travel insurance, but ambassadors are free to purchase it from any company. FFI recommends Travel Guard because of the excellent customer service they have provided for many of our members. FFI also receives a commission from Travel Guard and is grateful for their sponsorship.
Read more about the “Vacation and Cruise” policy.
Purchase Travel Guard Insurance online.

New and Continuing Field Reps in the US and Canada

Clubs in the US and Canada are served by a team of volunteer field representatives. Themselves experienced club and exchange leaders, the field representatives can be called on to answer questions and offer guidance to the members and clubs in their regions. FFI extends its sincere thanks to Bob Duncan, Pat Meyer and Barbara Macken for their years of dedicated service as field representatives. We look forward to continuing to work with Bob on the FFI Board of Directors and with Pat and Barbara in other capacities.

We welcome the following new field representatives:
Gwendolyn Deas of FF Southern New Jersey, serving the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Region
John Heard of FF New Mexico, serving the Southwest Region
Adrienne Moen of FF Greater Des Moines, serving the Midwest Region

As always, FFI extends its thanks to our continuing field representatives:
Jaap Schouten, serving Eastern Canada
Barb Clarke, serving Western Canada
Sandy Gourdine, serving the Florida Region
Tom Laggy, serving the Southeast Region
Lyn Hargreave, serving the Great Lakes Region
Gordon Carscadden, serving the West Coast Region
Barbara Guilford, serving the Mountain States Region
Marilyn Peterson, serving the Northern Rockies & Pacific Northwest Region

For more information about your regional field representative, contact Kathy Thomas at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

Positive aging is a pleasure for Ruth

Ruth Fox of the Tweed Valley Friendship Force club was honored at this year’s Senior Week with the Positive Aging Award. Ruth was selected for the award for her work with Friendship Force as well as numerous other organizations in her community as well as her general care and concern for her fellow citizens, near and far.


Friendship Force honored by community

The New Hampshire Seacoast Friendship Force club is being honored by their local community with a month-long display at the Dover Public Library. In addition to this exciting publicity, the mayor has named March 18th as official Friendship Force day in Dover!


Ukraine mayors to visit region

Despite political turmoil in their home country, 4 Ukrainian mayors are currently visiting FF Hudson Valley in New York. During their visit, they will meet city officials, tour congressional offices and view some of the area’s most popular tourist sights. View some photos of their visit by clicking here.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

612 ABC Brisbane interviews Ruth Southgate

Ruth Southgate of Brisbane, Australia promotes and answers questions about Friendship Force in an entertaining and informative radio interview! Be sure to give it a listen and share it with your friends!


Fort Worth group doesn’t let international boundaries get in the way of friendship

Betty Kessler of FF Fort Worth explains to the Star-Telegram how Friendship Force’s approach is “more personal; not just a tourist point of view” in this Texas write-up.


Serbians’ visit to Wichita part of program promoting global understanding, cultural connections

The Wichita Eagle discusses the experiences and expectations of 5 Serbian women on their visit to Wichita, Kansas as part of the Open World Leadership Program.


Friendships from afar land in Murray Bridge

The exchange of 15 ambassadors from South Africa, England, the United States and Canada to Murray Bridge, Australia is the subject of this article in The Murray Valley Standard. There is also a photo gallery of some of the participants of the exchange!



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Friendship Force Clubs Celebrate World Friendship Day!

March 1st marked one of Friendship Force’s favorite holidays… World Friendship Day! Many clubs joined in on the celebration of this great day.

-FF Greater Atlanta celebrated at MedShare and packed nearly 500 pounds of medical supplies that will be shipped to Haiti, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Turkey and Uganda!

-Our friends in Sherbrooke celebrated their 10th anniversary of this event by marching around Nation Lake.

-FF Omaha released balloons with Friendship Force information and lunch coupons into the air.

-FF of Hobart, Australia celebrated the day with their inbound exchange friends from FF San Francisco Bay and attended a concert.

image    image

image    image

Send your World Friendship Day stories and photos to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

Omaha Celebrates World Friendship Day, Friendship Force International Works to Engage Across Cultures
Friendship Force of Greater Omaha celebrated World Friendship Day by launching balloons with Friendship Force information and lunch certificates to spread the message of friendship!
Germany, Up Close and Personal
Friendship Force member Lyn Hargreave of FF Western Michigan writes an article in which she shares the joy of exploring foreign places with Friendship Force.
Opinion: International Friendship should rise above politics
Friendship Force continues to promote it’s mission of friendship even when politics become an obstacle.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Friendship Force and PaintPals want to thank all the participating clubs and kids!















As the 2014 Winter Olympics continue in Sochi, Russia the world is full of the Olympic spirit. We would like to send a special thank you to the clubs and countries world-wide that contributed artwork for out partnership with PaintPals International! We received lots of fantastic art from children all over the world that truly inspired us to think about the meaning of “Peace and Friendship through the Olympic Spirit”.  It is so special that we have been given the opportunity to participate in this global demonstration of friendship and community. We are so proud to be a part of the Sochi Olympics in 2014! A special thank you to the clubs and countries listed below who contributed art for display!

Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Brandon, Canada
Pentiction, Canada
Gatineau, Canada
Winnipeg, Canada
Ontario, Canada
Bristol, England
Budapest, Hungary
Malang, Indonesia
Palembang, Indonesia
Tokyo, Japan
Ota Gunma, Japan
Manila, Philippines
Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Kirov Oblast, Russia
Buryat Republic, Russia
Masaka, Uganda (via Lincoln, Nebraska)
Lugansk, Ukraine
Chernivets Oblast, Ukraine
Chernigov Oblast, Ukraine
Ternopol, Ukraine
Odessa, Ukraine
Sumska Oblast, Ukraine
Dnipropetrovskaya Oblast, Ukraine
Greater Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Cairns, Australia
Tamworth, Australia
Sydney, Australia
Wanganui, New Zealand

Thanks again for helping us show that friendship can truly be worldwide!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

What is the Olympic Spirit?


Shaun White (USA, right) gives a congratulatory hug to his opponent and friend, gold medal winner Iouri Podladtchikov (Switzerland, left) at the Halfpipe event in Sochi. Photo by Andy Wong, Associated Press.


What is the Olympic spirit, and what does it have to do with the Friendship Force?

The following passages are taken from the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, as laid out in the Olympic Charter.

1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing together of the world’s athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.

4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

Many of these principles are the same ones that members of the Friendship Force adhere to in their travels, in their communities, and in their daily lives. Our values are mutual respect, cultural diversity, cultural exploration and service. We believe that by connecting the world, one friend at a time, we will create a world of friends that becomes a world of peace.

You can make a contribution to global goodwill. Join the Friendship Force and travel for good.

See global children’s artwork reflecting peace and friendship through the Olympic spirit, currently on display in Sochi.


Friday, February 07, 2014

Friendship Force and International Paint Pals bring children’s visions of peace to Sochi Olympics



For the first time in history, Friendship Force is bringing its message of friendship and peace to the Olympic Games – through the children of the world.

In the spring of 2013, FFI partnered with International Paint Pals on an ambitious project: to gather illustrations of peace and friendship from children all over the world and bring them to the world stage.

Friendship Force clubs on every continent stepped up and reached out to their local schools, libraries, neighbors and families, asking children to draw or paint a picture symbolizing the Olympic spirit.

The result was bigger than anyone had imagined: 300 artworks from 14 countries. From those, 36 pieces were sent to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The exhibit was debuted in December at the Sochi Institute of Design, Business and Fashion. From there, it was intended to move to the Olympic Village. But events took a surprising turn.

The final exhibit featured 300 paintings from Friendship Force and other Paint Pals partners. When the Olympic Committee previewed the enormous display, they were deeply moved to see so many expressions of hope from children all over the world.

The Olympic Committee decided to move the exhibition to the International Plaza – the main entryway to the Olympic Park, directly adjacent to the athlete’s village, where it will be seen by the most people.

Furthermore, they decided to split the exhibition into three galleries, so that one could be placed at each Olympic event site: the main Coastal Cluster, the Mountain Cluster, and the Endurance Center, high on the mountain where some of the skiing events will take place.

Every person who attends the Olympic Games will have an opportunity to view the Friendship Force and Paint Pals exhibit, where they can also read about the Friendship Force and its mission.

This unique display of artwork reveals that the world’s children believe in a more peaceful future. The Friendship Force invites everyone to become a part of that movement, building a world of friends that becomes a world of peace.

Follow Friendship Force International on Facebook and Twitter – we’ll be featuring a painting a day to fuel the Olympic spirit throughout the games.

View full galleries of the paintings and of the debut in Sochi.


Monday, January 06, 2014

Friendship Force in the News

FF Greater Milwaukee’s Open World Program Highlighted in MSOE Dimensions

MSOE Dimensions, a magazine out of the Milwaukee School of Engineering mentioned Russian visitors hosted through FF Greater Milwaukee’s Open World program. The article can be seen on page 7.


Argentina’s La Nacion Discuses Travel and the Homestay Approach of Friendship Force

A travel and lifestyle article in La Nacion compares different methods of International travel.


Edmonton Life and Leisure discusses the Taming of a Harsh Land Exchange

FF Oklahoma is highlighted in an article that discusses the exchange that won them the honor of FF Club of the Year.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FFI and International Paint Pals Exhibit: Peace and Friendship through the Olympic Spirit

(Atlanta, GA, 12/16/13) - Opening December 20 at the Sochi Institute of Fashion, Business and Law in Sochi, Russia, Friendship Force International and International Paint Pals present an extraordinary display of youth art representing ‘Peace and Friendship Through the Olympic Spirit.

This beautiful and meaningful display of children’s art was obtained with the enormous help and support from Friendship Force International (FFI) clubs around the world, in partnership with International Paint Pals (IPP). IPP, recently acquired by FFI, is an Atlanta-based organization with a long and successful history of providing arts and cultural programs to young people globally, and in displaying these artistic works in notable venues the world over.  Working together, IPP brings valuable resources to enhance FFI’s mission of crossing the barriers which divide people to a new generation of friendship and peace-makers.

In March, FFI asked its international clubs to participate by going out into their communities and helping to support this project with local schools. Over 20 clubs, along with partner organizations such as the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)The ArtReach Foundation, CISV International, and the St. Petersburg, Russia Institute for Cultural programs, responded generating more than 400 pieces of drawings and paintings, from 50+ countries on all 7 continents.

This exclusive exhibition will be on display in Sochi, Russia to honor the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in collaboration with the Sochi Olympics Organizing Committee as a part of the prestigious Cultural Olympiad Program. In February 2014 the exhibition will be moved into the high profile International Athlete’s Village, where it will remain throughout the Winter Games (2/7-2/23), and it will stay open until the end of the Paralympic Games which follow (3/7-3/16).  The exhibition’s theme is dedicated to young people everywhere who have been affected by war and violence.

“While International Paint Pals has mounted art projects like this at other Olympic Games and global venues - Beijing, Atlanta, and the United Nations for example,” said Linden Longino, IPP’s founder, “This is our biggest and most impactful one yet. We are grateful to the Russian Olympic Committee for supporting our mission and giving young people a voice of friendship on this enormous stage.”

Inside the Olympic Village thousands of athletes and spectators will see the artwork of hundreds of young people (ages 4-18) from all over the world, experiencing their messages of friendship and peace from the generation which will inherit the planet one day as future world leaders.

“Our worldwide Friendship Force members took to this project with enthusiasm because it helped to bring our 36-year message of global friendship to a whole new generation, but what we heard from the young people who participated was that a more peaceful world is already something they want,” said Joy DiBenedetto, FFI’s President.  “We hope the world will see these expressions on display in Sochi and take these ideas to heart.”

ABOUT FFI: FFI conducts more than 400 international home hospitality programs every year, in 60+ countries. Since 1977, when US President Jimmy Carter introduced the Friendship Force at a White House gathering, 1 million people have participated in the organization’s unique exchange programs. FFI’s work creates global cooperation at the personal level - beyond governments and borders - where people live, work, and play in everyday life; and FFI’s efforts have been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1992.  Read more at www.friendshipforce.org.

ABOUT IPP: International Paint Pals (IPP) was formed in 1995 to provide a worldwide creative forum for young people to express their personal views on global issues and to share their similarities and differences through the universal language of art. More than 200,000 youth in 75 countries on all 7 continents have participated.  Started by The Atlanta Project of The Carter Presidential Center by Linden Longino, the partner network has included associates of The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum in London, The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Exhibitions have been mounted for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Goodwill Games and the United Nations for which six major events for UN international conferences have been organized. In 2001, IPP received a “Global Tolerance Through the Arts Award” from the UN for successfully promoting communication, understanding, and friendship. Read more at www.paintpals.org

For more information contact:

Jillian Walters, FFI Communications Coordinator, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), (770) 891-1004.

Giants in Friendship Promotion Join Forces for Art and Peace

(Atlanta, GA, 12/16/13) - Proving that global friendship can make a positive contribution towards international understanding, Friendship Force International (FFI) and International Paint Pals (IPP) have today announced that they are formalizing their partnership with an agreement for FFI to acquire the IPP program.

In March of this year, FFI asked its international clubs to participate in a distinctive art project in collaboration with IPP.  This alliance resulted in 22 FFI clubs, along with other partners, answering the call to go into their communities and work with schoolchildren to generate more than 400 paintings and drawings representing “Peace and Friendship Through the Olympic Spirit”.  The exclusive exhibition has already previewed at FFI’s biggest-ever annual world conference in New Orleans in November, and will open as part of the Russian Olympic Committee’s prestigious `Cultural Olympics Program’ on December 20 in the public exhibition hall of the Sochi Institute of Fashion, Business and Law. It will move in January to the International Olympic Village for the 2014 Winter Games.

This effort, which brought these two global friendship organizations together for the first time, resonated with everyone involved and allowed both groups the chance to broaden their collective work with a like-minded partner.

“Working with Friendship Force International was a way for us at International Paint Pals to access countries and sources of young people’s creative expression which we hadn’t previously tapped,” said Linden Longino, Founder of IPP. “The art we curated by working with FFI’s vast international network of clubs was extraordinary, and we knew we had found a life-long collaborator.”

“Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with our message of global friendship,” said Joy DiBenedetto, FFI’s President. “With our modern world often in strife and chaos, the FFI mission to connect the world across the barriers that separate people rings louder than ever before. Working with Linden and his IPP team was a way for us to share our 36-year legacy with the next generation who will inherit the planet.”

What the two venerable groups realized was that their work together was more significant than any one project.  “Today, we’re announcing a merger of sorts,” said Longino. “Because we share the same vision for a better world, and in order to continue to grow our artistic work with young people we’ve been absorbed by Friendship Force International.”

Added DiBenedetto, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have IPP as a member of the FFI family. We truly believe that the art these young people are creating speaks volumes of hope for the future world they want to see take shape. It’s astonishing.”  Linden Longino will stay on with FFI and serve as the organization’s newly established Advisor for Youth Cultural Programs.

Asked about the team’s next project, DiBenedetto and Longino declined to comment saying, “It’s already in the works and will bring our global message of friendship and collaboration to every point on Earth.”

ABOUT FFI: FFI conducts more than 400 international home hospitality programs every year, in 60+ countries. Since 1977, when US President Jimmy Carter introduced the Friendship Force at a White House gathering, 1 million people have participated in the organizations unique exchange programs. FFI’s work creates global cooperation at the personal level - beyond governments and borders - where people live, work, and play in everyday life; and FFI’s efforts have been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1992.  Read more at www.friendshipforce.org.

ABOUT IPP: International Paint Pals (IPP) was formed in 1995 to provide a worldwide creative forum for young people to express their personal views on global issues and to share their similarities and differences through the universal language of art. More than 200,000 youth in 75 countries on all 7 continents have participated.  Started by The Atlanta Project of The Carter Presidential Center by Linden Longino, the partner network has included associates of The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum in London, The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Exhibitions have been mounted for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Goodwill Games and the United Nations for which six major events for UN international conferences have been organized. In 2001, IPP received a “Global Tolerance Through the Arts Award” from the UN for successfully promoting communication, understanding, and friendship. Read more at www.paintpals.org

For more information contact:

Jillian Walters, FFI Communications Coordinator, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), (770) 891-1004.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Friendship Force in the News

Trip to Japan captures hearts of Omaha’s Friendship Force

20 members of FF Omaha traveled to Japan for a 19 day exchange that included homestays in Matsuyama, Tsu and Ooguri.


Lincoln Friendship Force wins best club honor

A local write-up on FF Lincoln’s recent Club of the Year win at the 2013 World Conference.


Friendship Force Oklahoma honored as International Outstanding Club

A brief piece on the exchange that helped FF Oklahoma take home a Club of the Year award for 2013.


Seacoast residents celebrate Morocco exchange

10 Friendship Force members joined in on an exchange organized by FF New Hampshire that explored the rich culture of Morocco.


A powerful force for friendship

FF Howick’s Maureen Ransley, Colleen Roughton, and Judy Burton encourage others to join in on the excitement of Friendship Force.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Most Globally Diverse Group of Directors Ever Elected For FFI Board

ATLANTA (12/3/13) – Friendship Force International, an Atlanta-based organization promoting friendship and goodwill through exchanges in more than 60 countries, elected new board members and officers at its annual business meeting which took place in New Orleans, US on November 21, 2013.

The 15-member Board of Directors currently includes representatives from the US, Canada, Colombia, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Russia, China and New Zealand; and joining this distinguished group of current and just departing members will be newly elected individuals from Singapore, Kenya, and Switzerland forming FFI’s most globally diverse Board in the organization’s 36-year history.

Replacing members coming off their Board term rotation on January 1, will be Kurt Hafaeli, President of the Friendship Force Solothurn, Switzerland club; a former university professor called a `visionary and agent of change in the most positive way’; Fred Opondo of Friendship Force Nairobi, Kenya is a businessman who has lived in 3 countries which makes him well suited to FFI’s growth plans in Africa; Robert Duncan of the Friendship Force Club of Baton Rouge which recently hosted the largest FFI World Conference in the organization’s history who has spent his life working with at risk and delinquent youth in successively senior positions and Ivan Ng, who as a university student founded the Nanyang, Singapore Friendship Force club and who has spent the past 10 years working in the consumer goods industry for companies including Proctor & Gamble in 30 countries across Asia in Business Development and Marketing. 

“By nominating such a diverse slate of FFI Director members for the upcoming 2014-2017 Board, our organization is focusing on the future and where we’d like to see our efforts to cross the barriers which divide people, grow in the world”, said FFI Board Chair, Jack Mullen of the United States.

Nominations for the prestigious FFI Board appointments are called for in early Spring and require a candidate to have many unique skills which they allow them to foster an understanding of cultures and regions of the world in which our clubs operate or where the organization is growing.  There are many factors which influenced the Board’s vote, including the candidate’s home region, his or her Friendship Force experience, other international experience, and professional and/or other skills; though being an FF member is not a must for Board consideration.

Cecile Latour, Vice-Chair of the FFI Board and head of the Nominations Committee this year said, “All of our candidates this year demonstrated passion for our mission, leadership of the FFI goals, and great ideas for our bright Friendship Force future, we had limited seats to fill. While our choices were all deserving, we elected those nominees who were most forward thinking.” 

“It is a great honor to be elected to the board as I have a strong commitment to the mission of Friendship Force International,” said Fred Opondo of Kenya. “I look forward to working with other board members to help advance the goals of this very important global organization in Africa and around the world.”

New members will serve a four-year term at the international board level for FFI and are responsible for developing policy and overseeing the global operations of Friendship Force International.

ABOUT FFI: FFI promotes global understanding across the barriers that separate people around the world.  FFI conducts 400 international home hospitality programs every year, in more than 60 countries. Since 1977 when US President Jimmy Carter and Wayne Smith introduced the Friendship Force at a White House gathering, more than 1 million people have participated in the organizations’ unique cultural exchange programs; and currently more than 18,000 people on 6 continents are members.  FFI’s work creates global cooperation at the personal level - beyond governments and borders - where people live, work, play and explore in everyday life. FFI’s efforts have been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1992.  In addition to exchanges between established Friendship Force clubs, Friendship Force International conducts a variety of specialized travel programs. These include the “discover” series that introduces Friendship Force members to new countries and cultures; humanitarian and educational exchanges; and Friendship Festivals that include participants from many countries.
To learn more, visit the FFI website at http://www.thefriendshipforce.org, follow us on Twitter @FriendshipForce, and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/friendshipforce

Contact:  Jillian Walters, Communications Coordinator, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), (404) 965-4359


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Friendship Force in the News

FFI Lincoln Helps Out in AIDS stricken Uganda towns

FF Lincoln traveled to Uganda last June to promote Friendship through charity. Members were able to provide financial assistance to many people in the heavily HIV/AIDS ridden towns of Kampala and Masaka. A meeting was held on September 26 with plans being formed for a return visit of a similar nature to Kenya in 2014.


FF Greater Milwaukee hosts Russian Open World group

Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee recently hosted Open World Leadership Center delegates from Russia, including a Russian film crew that filmed a documentary. It is approximately 7 minutes long and gives you a glimpse of the whirlwind week for the Open World Russian delegates in Milwaukee studying Higher Education.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Submit your nomination for the FFI Board of Directors

This year, the FFI Board of Directors will meet in New Orleans prior to the FFI World Conference, November 23-25, 2013. At this meeting, three new board members will be elected to a four-year term that begins January 2014.

The Board invites Friendship Force club leaders and members to submit nominations for these important leadership positions. You may nominate yourself or someone you know by completing the nomination form. You may consult with the person you are nominating but this is not required.

The Nominating Committee will review all nominations carefully. The committee will select a group of finalists and contact them directly for additional information.

To submit a nomination, please review the background information on board membership and return the nomination form to Cecile Latour, Chair of the Nominating Committee, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) no later than August 10, 2013.

Click here to read background information on the responsibilities of the Board of Directors and the nomination process.

Click here to download the nomination form.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dinner with a nomadic Mongolian herder and his family














Story and photo by Dave and Pat Meyer

Dave and Pat Meyer of FF Northern Illinois, USA, recently returned from leading an exchange to three new Friendship Force clubs in eastern Russia and Mongolia.

They had a unique experience when they joined a family of nomadic herders for dinner in their ger, a traditional, portable dwelling used in the steppes of Mongolia.

We had an especially spectacular day when we drove over the steppes about two or three hours from Ulaanbaatar.  One of the members of the Mongolian FF club is a close friend of a nomadic herder — yes, just like we read about when we studied geography in sixth grade! 

This member arranged for us to meet the family and have a traditional dinner with them.  I had asked during the planning stages of the exchange if we might sleep in gers and drink warm mare’s milk! 

The gers are far, far apart (think 5 to 7 miles), and of course have no addresses, or even roads.  Part of the fun and adventure yesterday was that we drove and drove, (our group was in a bus, but we were being led by four Mongolians in an SUV), stopping from time to time to ask nomadic families if they knew where the family we were looking for might be found. 

Although we had cell phones, there is no service in the country.  However, I’m not certain that phoning would have done any good because there are no roads. We were on dirt tracks some of the time, but simply driving over grass most of the time.  Several in our group began to worry that we’d never find our way back to the main road or that we’d run out of gas, but all turned out well.

When we finally arrived at the herder’s ger, the husband was putting vegetables in a large pressure cooker filled with a freshly slaughtered lamb.  Dave also noted that he was putting in red-hot coals (later we found out they were rocks to help speed the cooking!)  The pressure cooker was outside over a hot bed of coals! 

Inside the ger, the organs were cooking in a large pot on a small stove.  The wife and daughter were tending them.  The organs were sliced soon after we arrived and served as an appetizer along with freshly made Mongolian milk tea (from freshly milked cows), dried yogurt curds, and the best tasting freshly churned butter (with bread) that I’ve ever tasted.  All eaten with fingers, of course. 

By the way, when the hot rocks were removed from the pot, we took them in our hands, moving them quickly from one hand to the other.  This was to expel “bad” gases from our bodies.  Don’t know how, but we followed the tradition!

To top off the dinner, we drank vodka made from milk!  A very mild vodka!  My only regret from this experience is that we did not get to drink warm mare’s milk, but it is the wrong season.  Have to be here in July to do this!

The family herds about 700 sheep and goats, all munching grass around us as we ate and visited.  The goats are raised for cashmere, and the sheep are sold for their meat.  Lots of lamb in Mongolia! 

This family also has a small herd of horses and a few cows for milk.  We were at their summer location, but when the weather turns cold, they pack up their ger and move it in their SUV to a winter location lower in the steppes where it’s warmer!!  Warmer must mean at least 10 degrees warmer!!!

The views of the steppes are without description.  I felt as if I were in the most beautiful painting imaginable.  The light is nothing I’ve seen anywhere. 

This experience is like no other, and what makes traveling with Friendship Force special.  Nothing commercial about this day!  Just a nomadic family sharing a meal with friends of a friend.  Can’t get much better than this!!

Before I close, I must add that we did sleep the night before in a ger in a National Park.  A tad more commercial than the meal with the herder, but not much.  It was like camping, but our sleeping accommodations were in a ger rather than a tent.  No toilets or running water.  Ah, what we take for granted! 

My hair is dirty and full of dust, but the air is so refreshing that it compensates for the lack of a shower.  The warmth and friendliness of the Mongolians (and earlier, the Russians) matches the warmth and friendliness of the Midwesterners back home.

Dave Meyer currently sits on the FFI Board of Directors. Pat Meyer serves as the volunteer field representative for the Midwest United States. They are known throughout the Friendship Force global community for their adventurous spirit and the unique exchanges they lead in the name of friendship.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Friendship Force in the News

Friendship Force Visits Chickasaw Cultural Center

51 Friendship Force members recently visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma on the “Taming a Harsh Land” Global Themed Exchange. During their visit, ambassadors had the chance to explore the customs of the Chickasaw people, as well as sample traditional foods and participate in a dance demonstration. The ambassadors of this exchange were welcomed to Oklahoma with an old fashioned Ice Cream Social where local FF members served ice cream and also hosted a cake walk!


Small Differences

The West Virginia Gazette’s piece in which Friendship Force members discuss the differences and similarities between Charlestown, West Virginia and their native New Zealand.


Friendship Force Club Visitors Learn About Lewis and Clark

The Central Montana Friendship Force Club hosted a group of ambassadors who got to walk in the footsteps of famous American explorers Lewis and Clark. Follow the link for a short news video on their experiences. 


Sharing Goodwill Through Travel

The Friendship Force Club of North Bay, Canada got a write-up in their local paper detailing the June 23 exchange which included highlights of hiking, culture and Canadian healthcare.


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Announcing Joy DiBenedetto, President and CEO of Friendship Force International


Russian :: Portuguese :: Japanese

Spanish :: German

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Joy DiBenedetto as FFI’s fifth president and CEO. Joy will begin her work here on July 15, 2013, and she will be formally introduced to the club members at the world conference in New Orleans.

Joy DiBenedetto is founder and former CEO of HUM: Human Unlimited Media, working to build the world’s first and only ‘all-nation’ content and information agency. An award-winning 20-year media veteran, she has covered every major global event in successively senior positions, from the studio and in the field; domestically and internationally; as a producer and manager.

Until March of 2008, she was the global vice president of network booking and research for the CNN News Group, where she oversaw daily and long-term guest coverage for CNN’s domestic and international news networks and platforms, managing a worldwide editorial staff. 

Prior to this, DiBenedetto served as director of network booking for CNN’s domestic networks.  While at CNN she developed and managed the Newsource affiliate guest booking service called “GuestSource,” created the first internet interview programming for CNN.COM, and worked to build CNN’s exclusive guest booking system.  Before joining CNN, she worked in Turner Broadcasting’s corporate finance division. She has also previously worked for CARE, the international humanitarian group, and as a caseworker handling senior citizens for New York City.

Her collective work throughout a professional career spans both the media industry and humanitarian interests, as reflected in a multitude of projects designed to bring both of these passions together. 

Throughout her career she has strived to elevate the importance of global understanding and to unite the world’s people. She pursued this goal with Turner Broadcasting, CNN and HUM by making positive change towards “closing the Geographic Gap” in media, as well as by serving at various humanitarian efforts with CARE, the Fugee’s Family and the United Nations, among other partners.
DiBenedetto believes strongly in the Friendship Force mission and in the signature program of home hospitality, which encourages personal friendships among global citizens. “This is an authentic message and method of worldwide cooperation that, in our data-driven digital age is often overlooked; and one which I am eager to help elevate and represent on behalf of the incredible mission and purpose of Friendship Force International,” DiBenedetto said.

She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology/audiology. In addition to being a recipient of a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I-duPont Columbia Broadcast News award, and a Jack Myers Media award for Innovation, she is also a Marshall Memorial fellow and a UN Foundation Global Health Press fellow who sits on numerous advisory and directorial boards. She often speaks publicly about the media industry, international business strategy, and on what unites people across the world.

DiBenedetto is a world trekker who often roller skates and bicycles to work and who has survived Dengue Fever.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Farewell Letter from FFI President George Brown

Dear Friends,

In July of 1983, I met a man named Wayne Smith. Our initial introduction took place in his office in what is now the CNN tower in Atlanta, where he invited me to join the staff of Friendship Force International. Since his offer was unexpected, Wayne said, “Give it a try for a month and see how it goes.” Well, that month turned into 23 of the past 30 years, and what began as a job somewhere along the way became a fascinating and very rewarding career. But at the end of this month, my journey as a member of the FFI staff will come to an end when I retire.

As I look back on my years with the Friendship Force, I am amazed at what this great organization has been able to accomplish. Year after year, tens of thousands of our members reach out in friendship to strangers, using home hospitality to break down the barriers that normally separate us. I’ve seen this happen so many times…and I’ve experienced it myself.

You have invited me into your homes in dozens of countries on six continents and Jill and I have enjoyed hosting you in our home. Like you, I’ve experienced the “Friendship Force magic” of discovering that lasting friendships can be established by spending a few days in the home together. So ordinary, and yet with such extraordinary results!

Since announcing my retirement, many of you have been asking “so, what are you going to do now?” My first answer is that I hope to be like so many of you with active and productive retirement years. I will remain active professionally on a limited basis in international cultural travel. I will also be doing a good deal of personal travel. Those of you who have said “come see us” better watch out. Jill and I have a growing list of friends and places we’re looking forward to visiting. And our home will be open to you. But here are also all the activities that sometimes get left behind with a busy career – time with grandchildren (I’ve volunteered to help with the carpool), keeping the yard looking good, the kitchen renovation we’ve put off for years (maybe even some cooking!) and spending time at our mountain cabin that has been neglected all these years. So don’t worry, I won’t be bored.

I’m also hoping to do some writing, including but not limited to my Friendship Force experiences. I’m fascinated by the appeal that international travel and discovering the unknown has for so many people in the 21st century. I’d like to explore in writing various facets of this phenomenon. I’m particularly intrigued by the universality of “hospitality to strangers” across all the world’s cultures. This is what I believe has made the Friendship Force possible, and remains a powerful force for good in the world. I’ll begin this writing by trying my hand at writing a blog on the Internet (something new to me, too, so don’t worry if you feel out of touch). The great thing about blogs is that they are short and they are interactive. I’ll take the lead by sharing some travel experiences and ideas and invite whoever is reading to respond with their own experiences and journeys. It is easy to join. Just drop me an email at my new email address so we can keep in touch and so I can tell you how to follow my blog: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

We all like journeys, but we also know they have a downside…saying goodbye when they comes to an end. I’ve seen this so many times with the Friendship Force, and experienced it myself; having to say goodbye just when we feel we’re getting to know each other. Usually there is the hope that we’ll see each other again and that makes the goodbyes not so painful.  For the better part of 30 years, I’ve been on a journey with the Friendship Force as a member of the staff and for the past nine years as your president. Now it is time to say goodbye, which makes me sad.

The sadness in saying goodbye, however, is tempered by the knowledge that there are friendships that will continue over the years ahead. Too many to name here, but some plans are already in the works: Ann and Dave, we’re expecting to see you at Thanksgiving…Robin and Bobbie too; Elza and Eduardo, next time you’re in Atlanta you MUST stay with us. Horst, don’t forget I’m coming back to Varel; Dave and Pat, you’re close enough we might just pop in at anytime. Tsuguyo and Mr. Aichi, where should we travel together next? Cicek we WILL come to Turkey and maybe add a side trip to Yury in Rostov on the way. And to all our Aussie and Kiwi friends, as soon as Jill gets enough time off from work (or retires!) we’re coming down under for a full month. That is just the beginning! I’m retiring from FFI but not from Friendship Force friends!

Just as I will continue my international friendships, I know you will do the same. And as you move through your life’s journeys, I know you’ll continue to value the connections that the Friendship Force has made possible. In the next week or two the FFI Board will be announcing the appointment of a new President. There are great opportunities ahead for the Friendship Force and I know that you will provide the same enthusiastic support to the new president that you provided me all these years.

The Friendship Force has been strong for 36 years because people like you have believed in its mission. Keep up that good work in the years ahead!

In friendship,


Friday, May 10, 2013

Your club has a part to play in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games

Friendship Force clubs around the world: We need your help for a major children’s art project for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Deadline extended: September 25, 2013.

FFI is teaming up with International Paint Pals to put on an exhibition of children’s artwork at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The theme will be “Peace and Friendship through the Olympic Spirit.”

You can engage the children of your community in our mission of friendship by inviting your children, neighbors, schools or other youth organizations to submit paintings.

We hope to receive artwork from all Friendship Force countries around the world, other than the USA, which is fully covered by International Paint Pals directly.

Any child (age 19 or younger) outside the USA may submit a painting.

The paintings should be sent to FFI in Atlanta, where a special panel of judges will select a group of paintings to be displayed in Sochi, Russia, for the Olympic Games. Other paintings will be selected for a special exhibit at the FFI World Conference in New Orleans in November 2013.

We want to feature artwork from children of many different nationalities and ages. Therefore, artistic quality is not the most important thing in the selection process. Expression of the theme and ages of the artists will be considered also. 

“Certificates of Recognition” will be awarded to all children who send paintings, whether they are selected for the final exhibition or not. 

The Friendship Force clubs that procure artwork for this project will be recognized on TheFriendshipForce.org and at the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans.

The rules are few and simple, and all clubs should do things their own way within these guidelines. The theme of the exhibition will be “Peace and Friendship through the Olympic Spirit.” Pictures may show winter sports activities or other scenes related to the theme of friendship and peace among young people of the world.

Basic rules for participation:

• Ages: 19 years or younger.
• Flat paper only; no thick board material or canvas.
• Size should not exceed approximately 46 by 61 centimeters (18 by 24 inches).
• They must be mailed flat or rolled, with no mats or frames.
• The sender must pay mailing expenses.
• Water colors, oil, acrylic, crayon, pencil, marker, pen, collage, and other techniques may be used. (Please, no “stick-on” materials like buttons, bugs, flowers, cloth, beans, etc.)
• The subjects of the paintings must adhere to the exhibition’s theme.
• Each painting must have the artist’s name, age, city, country, and title on the back.
• Paintings must be mailed by September 25, 2013, or before.
• The paintings cannot be returned to the artists after the exhibition.

Please mail your artwork to the following address:

Friendship Force International
The Candler Building
127 Peachtree St NE, Ste. 501
Atlanta, GA 30303

Please include a name and email address for a contact person within your Friendship Force club, so we can notify you about which paintings are selected.

If you have any questions, please contact Ana Smulski at FFI: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The children’s art exhibit in Sochi will be dedicated to child victims of war and terrorism around the world.

We hope you’ll join us in this project to show the world how much its children desire a future of friendship and peace.


More about International Paint Pals (IPP): Founded by the Carter Presidential Center in 1995, IPP is now an independently incorporated non-governmental organization (NGO), headquartered in Atlanta, USA.  For the past 17 years they have operated a worldwide children’s art program which has involved 150,000 kids in 75 countries. IPP has organized many international art and educational events for the United Nations, including exhibitions for the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA (1996), Athens, Greece (2004), and Beijing, China (2008).



Friday, May 03, 2013

Friendship Force in the News

Forging New Friendships
Our Canada magazine

Val Keenan of FF Winnipeg wrote this thoughtful reflection on the Friendship Force for Our Canada magazine. In it, she describes the fun of hosting and the way that seeing your home through the eyes of an international visitor brings a special sense of appreciation.


Mark Twain’s Recent Visit to Japan
Japan Mark Twain Society Newsletter

FF member Ed Helm gave his famous Mark Twain impersonation at the World Conference in Hiroshima. He found some creative ways to engage his character with Japanese culture and history, and he got the whole room laughing. Read about his delightful performance and cultural insights in this article he wrote for the Japan Mark Twain Society Newsletter – scroll to Page 3 to read in English.


Russian delegation tours Henderson County
Blue Ridge, Georgia, USA
April 2013

A group of Russian educators recently visited Hendersonville, North Carolina to learn about helping children with autism. Their stay included tours of Hendersonville Elementary School, an autism program through UNC Chapel Hill in Asheville and a school for special needs children in Hendersonville.

The group was hosted in local homes by the Friendship Force of Western North Carolina.


Korea ~ Leaving a legacy of kind memories
The Spokesman-Review
Spokane, Washington, USA
April 2013

Check out this fascinating column about a woman’s 1978 Friendship Force International exchange to South Korea and how the current threats on the Korean peninsula pull at her heartstrings.


International visitors at Wessels
York News-Times
York, Nebraska, USA.
April 2013

Wessels Living History Farm in York recently had visitors from four different countries thanks to a group of Friendship Force International ambassadors.

The Friendship Force exchange, which focuses on the Great Plains, included people from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. They will also visit Kansas and Oklahoma.


Russian educators learn from MSDB
KRTV Channel 3
Great Falls, Montana, USA
April 2013

Check out this TV story about a group of Russian teachers who visited Montana thanks to a partnership between the Open World Program and Central Montana Friendship Force Club.

The Russian teachers visited the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind to learn about how the school the works and get ideas about teaching techniques and activities for deaf and blind children. They said they gained valuable information that will help their students in Russia.


Universal love of teaching: Russian visit to city focuses on special education
Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana, USA
April 2013

This feature highlights Russian teachers visiting Great Falls though a partnership of between the Open World program and the Central Montana Friendship Force.

The delegation of Russian teachers works predominantly with visually impaired students in Russia. They visited classrooms at the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind to learn first-hand how the school provides visually impaired students with both educational skills and life skills.


Friendship Force Baton Rouge holds board meeting
The Advocate
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
April 2013

Friendship Force of Baton Rouge is planning a trip to New Zealand.

Thornton Cofield gave an update on the New Zealand trip at the club’s monthly meeting.  The group also discussed the Friendship Force International Conference to be held in New Orleans in November, and the board voted to accept an invitation from Sacramento Friendship Force for an exchange in August.


Friday, April 19, 2013

FF Sunshine Coast hosts ‘Spring Break’ for young Japanese tsunami survivors

The Friendship Force of Sunshine Coast, Australia recently hosted a delegation of Japanese students from the Sendai area. For these students, who had survived the tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011, many losing their family members and homes, the exchange was a joyful experience in the midst of a difficult time.

Read the summary and see the pictures from the FF Sunshine Coast newsletter here.

This very special exchange was also featured in the local media:
      >>Tsunami survivors find a way through the pain
      >>Visit helps students to forget deadly tsunami

Heather Haythorpe of the Sunshine Coast club wrote to FFI to share two special memories from the trip:

The first, on returning from Australia Zoo, Ren and Ami from Sendai were in my car with two chaperones, Fumiko and Masako, and I asked what they enjoyed the most at the zoo. Ren, a 14-year-old boy who did not speak for over a year after the tsunami, promptly replied, via Fumako, “The birds.” Surprised, I asked why the birds, when they had patted koalas, watched the crocs, etc… his reply was that they do not have any birds where he now lives with his sister Ami, having lost their sole parent in the wave, as all the birds died with radiation and there are no trees. Such a simple thing.

The second was two of the boys telling me that their future was to learn English well and return to Australia, one to work with the animals at Australia Zoo, the other to learn to be a Surf Life Saver. None of them are allowed into the ocean in the Miyagi/Sendai area, and it took them 4-5 days to get brave enough to enter our surf.

Thank you, George, for supporting this with your early assistance, and thank you, Matthew, for the wonderful help and support you have given Jean and Tom. They did a wonderful job, or in Aussie slang, they done good!

FFI extends our thanks to the volunteers of FF Sunshine Coast and their counterparts in Japan who made this exchange possible, and to the members around the world who donated money to this effort during the 2012 World Conference in Hiroshima.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Seeking Applicants: President/CEO, FFI

The Friendship Force is a global community comprising 377 clubs (chapters) in 57 countries.  Its members are ordinary people who share a desire to spread goodwill, to better understand people of other cultures, and to value one another as friends.  The Friendship Force is non-governmental, non-partisan, and has no religious affiliation.  The year 2012 marked the 35th anniversary of the Friendship Force.  This milestone is a testament to the enduring relevance of the organization’s mission to support global understanding across the barriers that separate people. 

Friendship Force International, Inc. (FFI) is the global headquarters for the Friendship Force.  Based in Atlanta, Georgia, FFI is responsible for developing and maintaining a global network of independent Friendship Force clubs and facilitating exchanges between the clubs, as well as developing new programs to keep the organization relevant and strong for the future.  With a staff of 10-12 people and a modest budget of $1.2 million, FFI supports and coordinates the efforts of thousands of volunteers throughout the world, creating a “global footprint” that rivals many of the largest organizations in the world. 

The President/CEO reports to the Board of Directors and is responsible for providing leadership for the Friendship Force globally as well as management direction and oversight for the headquarters staff.  This individual will lead the Friendship Force into a new era and address the new changes, challenges and opportunities that have emerged since its founding.  Participating in completion of an expansion plan begun in 2012, the new President/CEO will have the benefit of gaining intimate knowledge of this international network and its leaders, while developing insight into where and how the organization can grow in the future. 

We are seeking candidates who will fully embrace and represent FFI’s mission and vision and serve as a passionate and effective advocate for the Friendship Force.  Representing FFI around the world, this individual must possess a demonstrated interest in travelling to visit different regions or countries on a regular basis.  A demonstrated ability to listen to and appreciate the perspectives of multiple cultures is required.  Prior experience living or working in another country as well as fluency in other languages would be helpful but are not required.  Sensitivity to and appreciation of cultural differences is essential. 

Other requirements include demonstrated experience managing an organization, budgets, financial administration, staff management and working with a board of directors; effective communicator; and the ability to motivate and inspire volunteer leaders.  The next President/CEO should be an innovative and creative leader with the ability to brand and market an organization and to increase visibility and exposure.  Successful candidates will have a bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred), and a minimum of 10 years in a leadership role with broad overall responsibility for managing multiple functions to include finance, operations and employees.  Significant experience with a non-profit organization either as a volunteer or an employee is strongly preferred.

Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest should be directed electronically to Euris E. Belle, Principal, Diversified Search, (404) 942-6307, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Friday, January 18, 2013

Friendship Force in the News

Pay It Forward
Reno Magazine
Reno, Nevada, USA
January 2013

FFI and the Friendship Force of Reno-Tahoe were spotlighted in this feature about traveling with a purpose. FF Reno-Tahoe members Linda Sekiguchi and Bruce Mitchner were interviewed for the article.


You’ve Got a Friend
Western North Carolina, USA
December 2012

Exchange Director Bill Wilkes explains the Friendship Force and its mission in this thorough article in a regional arts and culture publication. “I like to think we are doing a part in promoting world peace, and helping improve the image of the US overseas by being good ambassadors when we travel and good hosts when people come to visit,” Wilkes said.


Friendship Force - Hiroshima for Peace and Friendship

FFI Board member Karen Overly Smith created this video, which includes footage and photographs from “Hiroshima Day” at the 2012 World Conference, when conference delegates from around the world visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.

Delegates presented over a thousand cranes at the Children’s Peace Monument and participated in a floating lantern ceremony to symbolize their hope for a peaceful future.


The Splendor and Spice of India
The Daily News Online
Longview, Washington, U.S.A.
Nov. 17, 2012.

This travel article about FF Lower Columbia’s exchange to India was written by Friendship Force Ambassador Jane Rosi-Pattison. She and 21 other Friendship Force members were hosted by families of Nashik, India, who had stayed with Lower Columbia members three years ago in Washington. They experienced daily life in India from rickshaws on the roadways to traditional Indian cooking. Their travels also included historic sites in New Delhi and of course, the Taj Mahal.


Visitors from Indonesia are a force for learning
The Spokesman-Review
Spokane, Washington, USA

A group of 15 Indonesian educators (11 teachers and four principals) spent a week in Spokane and another week in Seattle, staying with American families and meeting with local educators. They also participated in a 3-day professional training program.

In Spokane, they visited Five Mile Prairie School to learn about non-traditional education. The school teaches home-schooled students for certain classes that their parents don’t feel qualified to teach. The concept of homeschooling was new to the Indonesians, as it is very rare in their country.


Friday, November 16, 2012

FFI President George Brown announces retirement

Read this message in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French or Russian.

George Brown to Retire as Friendship Force President June 30, 2013

George Brown, who has served as president of Friendship Force International since April 2004, will retire effective June 30, 2013. The announcement comes two weeks after the very successful conclusion of FFI’s 35th World Conference in Hiroshima, Japan, attended by over 400 members from 24 countries. 

“It has been a great honor for me to work for this incredible global organization for a total of 23 years, the last nine years as president,” stated Brown who will turn 68 next June. “The Friendship Force, with its new global expansion plan, is in great shape. I can look back with pride and satisfaction at the record of the past few years, but now is the time for new leadership to carry forward the mission of global friendship that was started in 1977 by Wayne Smith, with the support of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.”

Brown expects to remain active in the international field but has no plans to take on another fulltime position. “I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit and to taking advantage of the opportunity for personal visits with many of the friends I’ve made around the world.”

In accepting Brown’s resignation, Board Chairman Alan Milne of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, stated: “We will miss George with his enthusiastic and effective leadership. He has made a tremendous contribution to the growth of our organization. We wish him all the best in his retirement years and know he will remain an active friend of the Friendship Force.”

Brown first joined the Friendship Force staff in 1983 and worked closely for many years with founder Wayne Smith. The Board of Directors has begun the leadership transition process and expects to have a new president appointed by June 2013. “We are confident that we will find just right person to lead us, building on the strong foundation George Brown has established,” stated Milne. “The Friendship Force is strong and growing and will continue to flourish for years to come.”

Read George Brown’s personal letter to the Friendship Force clubs and share with your members.


Friday, October 05, 2012

FFI Board of Directors elects new members for 2013

On September 17, 2012, the following new members were elected to the Friendship Force International Board of Directors.

Jane Rectenwald has extensive managerial and business experience, as well as work within the nonprofit sector. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she worked in Montana as Field Director for the Girl Scouts. From there she returned to Pittsburgh for managements positions with US Steel and with a large law firm. She later returned to Montana and established a candy business called “Jane’s Montana Chocolates, Beyond the Plain” until her retirement. Jane has been active in the Friendship Force of Missoula- Western Montana since 2008.

Loes Epping van den Bosch has been a member of the Friendship Force since 1986, when she joined the Friendship Force of Arnhem, and since 2002 has been a member of the Friendship Force of (Zutphen) Netherlands East. She has filled many leadership positions and is currently helping organize a cycling exchange to the Netherlands for 2013. She also serves as a field representative working with the clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Loes has had a very active career in marketing, working with Shell International, Unilever and Dutch Telecom. She and her husband Wil travel widely throughout Europe as well as other regions of the world.

Francois Shih (石豐榮) has been associated with the Friendship Force for more than 20 years, having previously served as a member of the Board of Directors and the International Advisory Council. He is the president of Sharpland Investments of Hong Kong, with additional business activity in Beijing, Shanghai, and Quangzhou. Shih has extensive experience developing business relations between China, the United States and many other countries. Along with developing business relationships with China since the 1980s, Shih has worked tirelessly to expand educational and cultural ties between China and other countries. His efforts have been recognized by Chinese leaders at the national level, as well as by former US President Jimmy Carter, among others.

Viv Caulfield is a native of Queensland, Australia, and has been a member of Friendship Force Gold Coast since year 2000. He has been a member of the club’s board since joining and has served in numerous leadership positions, including twice as club president. Viv pursued a successful career in the field of education, having held senior level positions within a number of public and private community college networks. During his career he traveled extensively, including on numerous occasions as a member of Australian international education delegations and exhibitions to the USA, Europe and Asia.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Aug. 21, 2012.

Check out this profile of the Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee and its first-ever food-themed exchange.

Since 1990, Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee has been building friendships around the world through cultural exchanges. About a year ago, Dave Kalan and other local members set out to plan their first-ever food-themed exchange.

It was a great success. For two weeks in August, about 20 visitors from Japan, Canada, Australia and a few U.S. states enjoyed the “Fun Adventures through Food” exchange. They ate their way through Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin on the exchange, which was a joint project of three Friendship Force clubs.

The exchange included some sightseeing, as well as cooking demonstrations and a visit to a farm.


News Release
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Click to Read

The Friendship Force of Fort Worth took a lead role in organizing a major community wide cultural event called the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit in North Texas. This initiative included the Fort Worth Japanese Society, the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Worth Sister Cities International, and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Friendship Force leaders and club members organized the home stay for all of the Japanese delegates to Fort Worth, and pulled off an amazing hosting experience for their guests.

FF Fort Worth really exemplified the spirit of the Global Expansion Plan in taking on this initiative, collaborating with other organizations in their community, and reaching out to new members and the local press.


The Hub
Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada
Click to Read

The Friendship Force of Hay River recently welcomed ambassadors from five US states, Manitoba and Australia. The enjoyed a welcome potluck dinner, walks to local waterfalls, a barbecue, and other outdoor activities.

“The best part about the schedule is that they are so excited to get here,” said club founder and president Nancy Makepeace. “These people have traveled everywhere, you wouldn’t believe some of the stories they have.”

Read the ambassador exchange director’s journal of the full exchange to FF Edmonton and FF Hay River. Ambassadors encountered old friends, experienced Canadian wildlife and saw the aurora borealis light up the night sky!


Bundaberg News Mail
Bundaberg, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Aug. 16, 2012.

Check out this online photo gallery of a recent Friendship Force gathering at Buss Park in Bundaberg, Australia. The gathering celebrated a group of visitors from the Western Waikato Friendship Force Club in New Zealand who came to Bundaberg for a Friendship Force exchange.


Santa Ynez Valley News
Santa Ynez, California, U.S.A.
Aug. 14, 2012.

Barbara Gutmann, a past president of Friendship Force of Santa Barbara, was recently elected president of the Board of Directors of the Neal Taylor Nature Center.

Gutman has been a docent at the center for many years and has also served as president of the docent/volunteer organization. A registered nurse with a master’s degree in child health nursing, she and her husband were formerly Peace Corps volunteers in India.


The Florida Times-Union
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A.
“Beth Cravey’s Blog”
Aug. 7, 2012.

GlobalJax, a 21-year-old Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization that is part of Friendship Force International, is recruiting a diverse group of new board members. The group says it is facing “an exciting period of growth and transition.”

Leaders and various professionals from more than 160 countries have visited Jacksonville through GlobalJax over the past two decades. Last year, the group expanded its reach by joining Friendship Force International.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Report on the Friendship Force and Road Scholar joint program to Cuba

By Dona Maguire, Friendship Force of Greater Harrisburg

Dona Maguire was one of 21 ambassadors who participated in the first Friendship Force/Road Scholar joint program to Cuba in June 2012.

Cuba has been one of the countries on my bucket list. For years I had hoped to be able to visit with the people of this island nation; I wanted to meet my brothers and sisters sharing the northern hemisphere. I am glad that the US now has more possibilities for American citizens to travel to Cuba through programs like Road Scholar and the Friendship Force.

Our ambassador group flew into the photogenic city of Cienfuegos, which has many historic buildings in the style of classical French architecture.  Our hotel rooms were large and bright, and the restaurant had a fine buffet of Cuban specialties. During our bus travels through the Cienfuegos Province, our guide Hector provided many illustrations about how the people of Cuba have managed during the past 50 years of the U.S. Embargo.

We continued on to the city of Trinidad in Sancti Spiritus Province. This well-preserved Spanish colonial settlement appears as it did in 1830. We wandered through rambling cobbled streets, talking to local citizens who were out and about.

Our next destination included travel to Havana. This was not a gray communist city as I had expected, but rather an exuberant place where the taxi drivers drove the streets in classic American-made cars. Our Friendship Force ambassador group wandered through the city streets and were welcomed with inquiries from local residents, “Where are you from?” We responded, “USA.”  The Cuban people gave back big smiles and gestures of welcome. All Friendship Force journeys include interaction with local citizens. The closeness achieved is always the best part of the journey.

The ambassadors brought practical gift items to present to our Cuban hosts. Gifts included bandages, aspirin, art supplies, toothpaste, and shampoo. One ambassador noticed the children playing kick ball in the street with a well worn ball.  Our ambassador group was able to donate money for the purchase of a soccer ball for the nearby art school students.

I came away from this exchange with newfound knowledge and more questions. As Friendship Force ambassadors and hosts, we did our part to overcome barriers that exist between the governments of our two nations. We had pleasing encounters and conversations with Cuban and American family members. Our ongoing relationships can lead to improved relations one person and one family at a time.

The next opportunity for Friendship Force members to visit Cuba is December 4-12, 2012. Once again, Friendship Force will partner with Road Scholar, which will provide an eight day program just for our members. Click here for itinerary details.

For more information or to enroll in this educational travel adventure, please call Road Scholar toll free at (800) 322-5315. Tell them you are with the Friendship Force and want to enroll in Program #20437 - Cuba Today: People and Society, scheduled for December 4, 2012.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

FF Fukuoka hosts guests from FF Long Island

You’ll be eager to visit Japan after watching this great footage a recent exchange between FF Long Island, USA, and FF Fukuoka, Japan. You’ll see the Japanese hosts greeting their guests at the airport and helping them learn some Japanese words. The New Yorkers also learned how to make noodles and tried on kimonos.

You can meet the Friendship Force members of Japan at the World Conference in Hiroshima in October. Post-conference home hospitality opportunities are still available also.


Dayton Daily News
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.
June 22, 2012.

Visitors from around the world will gather in Dayton for a week in July to learn about local aviation history and build new friendships as part of a Friendship Force International exchange.

The upcoming exchange called “Aviation Trail: Past, Present, Future” will be held July 7th to 14th. It kicks off with the Dayton Air Show, and it will feature visits to aviation-related sites, such as Tech Town, the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Neil Armstrong Museum and various historic Wright Brothers locations.

The Dayton club, which has about 150 members, organizes two foreign trips a year, while hosting inbound exchanges in Dayton about twice a year.


Stillwater, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
July 2, 2012.

A group of Friendship Force International ambassadors from Costa Rica recently visited the Oklahoma state capitol as guests of Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater). “Layman diplomats such as the FF ambassadors are able to cultivate trust in ways that governments cannot. As citizens of countries come to understand each other, there is less support for political strife and that is the key function of the Friendship Force,” said Williams.


Lethbridge Herald
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
July 4, 2012.

The Friendship Force of Lethbridge is keeping a busy schedule this summer. The group hosted Friendship Force ambassadors from upstate New York during the first week of July.

The Lethbridge club, which was the first Friendship Force chapter in Canada, typically hosts about two exchanges a year and takes one or two trips each year. The club will travel to Ukraine, Belarus and Poland later this summer. Next year, they are planning an exchange trip to Western Europe.


Indiana Daily Student
Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.
July 4, 2012.

This fall, Bloomington will become the first city in Indiana to become part of Friendship Force International, a global organization that promotes friendship and understanding among people in nearly 60 countries. The group celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

The Bloomington chapter will be launched by Bill Blaine, who has been active in Friendship Force for 22 years and has traveled to more than 40 countries.


L Magazine
(a publication of the Lincoln Journal Star)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.
July 5, 2012.

Nancy Comer, president of the Friendship Force of Lincoln, shares her experiences in Friendship Force International, an international organization dedicated to building global understanding across barriers. She draws on her favorite quote from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…” to emphasize the importance of Friendship Force.

The Lincoln chapter was formed in 1981 and has nearly 200 members. The group participated this year in an exchange to Costa Rica, and it will travel to Romania next year.


Grayslake, Illinois, U.S.A.
July 6, 2012.

Bob Weissman of The Friendship Force of Northern Illinois wrote this account of his recent trip to Iowa for a Friendship Force International exchange. It was Weissman’s first time serving as exchange director, and he said the trip to Dubuque went very well.


Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, Illinois, U.S.A.
July 6, 2012.

This is another personal account of the recent Friendship Force exchange to Iowa by The Friendship Force of Northern Illinois.

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Friendship Force were excellent hosts for this fun and busy exchange. The Friendship Force of Northern Illinois is looking forward to hosting the Iowans in Illinois in the near future.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

Georgia Trend magazine
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=113515 (Click on the TOC icon in the top left. Then click “Kitchen Table Diplomacy, Page 60”.)

This six-page feature article on the past, present and future of Friendship Force International includes a new interview with former First Lady and Friendship Force Chairwoman Rosalynn Carter. “You realize people are not really that different,” she said. “They want good things for their families, they want good homes, a church or a synagogue or a place to worship. They want a good life.”


International Travel News
June 2012

Marcia Howard describes her first travel experience with the Friendship Force. Hosted by two clubs in Indonesia, Marcia explains the difference home hospitality makes.


Wall Street Journal online
June 11, 2012

A recent Wall Street Journal article about home exchanges prompted Friendship Force members to write in about the unique Friendship Force home hospitality experience. Thank you to everyone who wrote to the newspaper, and good job getting the word out about our great organization!!


Brandon Sun
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Click here to read

The Friendship Force of Brandon and Area recently hosted 12 ambassadors from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Local hosts and Brazilian ambassadors share their thoughts on what makes a Friendship Force exchange special in this article.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Check out this feature on Friendship Force International, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with expansion plans to add 45 new clubs around the world over the next few years. The article highlights the Atlanta chapter of the Friendship Force — which is one of the largest with about 200 members — and shares insights and experiences from local members.


Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
June 12, 2012

Ambassadors from Iowa were provided the unique opportunity to visit a Hutterite colony and meet its people. The Friendship Force members were interested to see firsthand the Hutterites’ practices of communal living.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

The Friendship Force of Koriyama hosted its first exchange since the devastating earthquake that struck the region last year. Ambassadors from all over the world joined the exchange led by Andrew Stirling. FF Koriyama gave them a warm welcome and introduced them to their culture and historical sites.

Read the news article in Japanese:

Read the translation in English:


Wausau Daily Herald
Wausau, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
April 28, 2012.

This excellent column highlights two Friendship Force International chapters in Wisconsin, U.S.A. Friendship Force of Wisconsin (based in Madison, Wisconsin) has 189 members, while Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee has 90 members.

Friendship Force organizes home-stay exchanges where the journey extends far beyond tourist hot spots and souvenirs. Participants have the opportunity to make meaningful connections and experience the every-day lives of average people in other cultures.

Some of the Madison-based members have visited Costa Rica and hosted families from several different countries in their Wisconsin homes. The chapter is planning a trip to Russia this year, as well as one to Indonesia in 2013.


April 27, 2012
Check out this video of Friendship Force of Bangkok, Thailand on their recent visit to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A.  It is set to music without narration.


April 28, 2012.
Here is another video set to music featuring the Friendship Force of Bangkok, Thailand on a recent exchange to Chiapas, Mexico.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A note from George Brown regarding Friendship Force publicity

Dear friends,

I hope you will consider sharing the opinion article I wrote on the Friendship Force 35th anniversary with your local news media. It was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on March 17, and we have received numerous positive comments. During our 35th anniversary year, good news about FFI like this will help us grow membership. Because I am the author, there are no copyright restrictions, so it can be published or posted on the web freely.

Our public relations advisor Andy Bowen has the following advice:

In order to have George Brown’s commentary on FFI’s 35th anniversary published in your local newspaper, or posted on your local television station’s website, there are several easy steps to take. Simply call or e-mail the local editor or TV news director, introduce yourself as the local contact for the FFI chapter, and advise them that you have some local news relating to Friendship Force International’s 35th anniversary. Ask them in what format they would like to have the commentary sent (e-mail attachment or other form), and whether they would like to have a picture of George to go with it. (He can provide that to you as needed). Then, simply e-mail, hand-deliver, fax or mail the commentary to them (depending on their desired format), and provide all of your contact information in case they have questions or need more information.

If you have questions for Andy, please e-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and he will be delighted to help. Good luck!

Click here to download the article as a Word document that you can personalize for your club and share with your local media.

In friendship,
George Brown
President, FFI


Friday, April 06, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

Mail Tribune
Medford and Southern Oregon, U.S.A.
March 25, 2012.

Tiazza Rose spoke about her journey from Casablanca, Morocco to the Rogue Valley at a recent meeting of the Friendship Force of Southern Oregon.

A native of Morocco who is an accomplished dancer, Rose also demonstrated a traditional belly dance at the meeting on March 25th. Members of Friendship Force of Southern Oregon plan to travel to Casablanca in May where they also will be joined by club members from New Zealand and Australia.


Taupo Times
Taupo, New Zealand
March 23, 2012
Click here to view.

The Friendship Force of Taupo, New Zealand, honored Rob Joyes, a founding member and leader for 26 years, with the Wayne Smith Medal.

The award was presented to Joyes on his 80th birthday. Fellow FF Taupo member Colin Ridge said Joyes has been one of the pillars of the local club since its inception. The Wayne Smith Medal recognizes the exception leadership Joyes has shown in advancing the Friendship Force mission.


Journal Star’s Neighborhood Extra
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.
March 15, 2012.

Members of the Lincoln Friendship Force recently shared photographs and talked about experiences from their trip to Costa Rica with residents of Eastmont Towers.

About 25 Friendship Force members participated in the slide presentation to more than 50 Eastmont residents. In January, Friendship Force members traveled to Turrialba, Costa Rica where they stayed in the homes of members of the Turrialba Friendship Force and enjoyed exploring Costa Rica with their host families.

In 2012, the Lincoln Friendship Force will be hosting visitors from Canada and Russia.


Channel 9 Online
Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
March 9, 2012.

Watch this television news clip about the lasting impression made recently by Friendship Force of Big Canoe - North Georgia in New Zealand. The Friendship Force ambassadors made a special presentation of two pieces of artwork to Mercy Hospital in Otago, New Zealand.

Margie Bowyer of Friendship Force of Big Canoe - North Georgia explained that the artwork came from the Foundation for Hospital Art, which strives to brighten the halls of hospitals around the world.

Bowyer was one of 14 ambassadors from the Friendship Force of Big Canoe - North Georgia on the exchange to New Zealand.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friendship Force in the News

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Editorial Page
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
March 16, 2012

George T. Brown Jr., president and CEO of Friendship Force International, explains how the organization has grown and changed over the years since it was formed in 1977. As Friendship Force International celebrates its 35th anniversary year this month, the group has touched more than a million people worldwide through home-stay exchanges, or in cultural, educational and other travel adventures.

Friendship Force has created a worldwide movement based on the simple notion that a world of friends can be a world of peace. With chapters in already more than 365 cities in 57 countries, the organization is expanding to reach more citizens around the globe. Over the next three years, 45 new chapters will be added in places like Uganda, Rwanda, India, China and Cuba.


My Daily News
Tweed Heads South, Australia
March 10, 2012

Tweed Valley Friendship Force has sent members everywhere from Asia to America, and the group has also hosted ambassadors from across the globe.

Last month, 13 members of a Friendship Force chapter in Brussels spent a week enjoying the delights of the Tweed and the hospitality of their host families. Des and Val Ireland hosted a farewell luncheon for the group in their Uki home. 

The Irelands, who were among the founding members of the club in 1984, describe their experience with Friendship Force as enlightening and enjoyable. Highlights included watching the Moscow Ballet in Russia and visiting the incredible Machu Picchu Incan ruins in Peru.


NewsChannel 5
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
March 11, 2012

World Friendship Day was celebrated March 10 by the Friendship Force of Western Colorado.

Members of the Friendship Force of Western Colorado travel to many different countries each year and stay with host families around the world.

To celebrate World Friendship Day, the group held a silent auction fundraiser and served food that they had eaten in some of the countries they visited. The event also showcased photos from many different countries, as well as pictures of visiting ambassadors to Western Colorado.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

FFI in the News

The Daily Commercial
Leesburg, Florida, USA
March 06, 2012

Friendship Force fights for peace and understanding.

Friendships form between FF Central Florida hosts and their guests from FF Tokyo. The members of Friendship Force Tokyo arrived Friday and have been treated to an American Indian Pow Wow at Renninger’s in Mount Dora; a traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey and all the trimmings at the Leesburg home of Bob and Merrell Westrick; a boat tour of the Dora Canal; and a Mexican fiesta at the Eustis home of Carmen Barrientos. “Our motto is a world of friends is a world of peace,” said Beth Lange, president of the Friendship Force of Central Florida.


Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
Feb. 20, 2012.

Friendship Force International is celebrating its 35-year history by investing in its future. The Atlanta-based organization, which facilitates home-stays exchanges in more than 50 countries, will be opening new clubs around the world and expanding programs.

A three-year expansion will create 45 new clubs in places such as Mexico, Japan, Colombia, Turkey and Indonesia. East Africa will also be a focus, with new clubs forming in Uganda and Rwanda.


Niagara, Ontario, CANADA
Feb. 16, 2012.

A local artist shares her art with the world through Friendship Force International.

Carolyn Vilum and her husband have lived in western Niagara for more than 40 years, but they traveled all over the world as members of Friendship Force International. Every time they travel she brings one of her floral portraits or pastoral scenes as a gift for her host family. She also gives one as a gift each time they host Friendship Force ambassadors from another country at their home in Canada.


Los Altos Town Crier
Los Altos, California, U.S.A.
Jan. 25, 2012.

Los Altos residents Dee and Dave Gustavson shared photos and stories about their experiences with Friendship Force International, as they addressed a standing-room only crowd at the Los Altos library on Jan. 8.

Dee Gustavson has visited 16 countries, including off-the-beaten-path destinations like Cuba, Egypt and China through Friendship Force exchanges. She explained how ambassadors become part of their host family and share daily experiences together.

“By the end of the week, you feel like they’re part of your family – they’ve taken you shopping, to their church, you’ve met their children and you really feel like you know them,” she said. “It just feels like the world is smaller.”


Greenfield, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Dec. 13, 2011.

A group of Indonesian educators visited Greenfield High School in suburban Milwaukee as part of a Friendship Force International exchange.

They toured the school to watch Greenfield teachers in action, as well as discuss curriculum and instructional techniques. The Indonesian and American teachers learned about each other’s educational practices, styles, philosophies and more.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FFI in the News

Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch
Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, Illinois, U.S.A.
Oct. 24, 2011.

A reader blog by Caryl Mikrut about how Friendship Force International has touched her life and been a “window to the world.” Mikrut is a member of Friendship Force Northern Illinois.

Some of her amazing experiences on exchange programs include sleeping in a tent at a refugee camp in Algeria, sipping tea with students in Iran and taking with East Germans about their life under Soviet control.

Estes Park Trail-Gazette
Estes Park, Colorado, U.S.A.
Oct. 25, 2011.

The Friendship Force of the Rockies hosted ambassadors in September from the Friendship Force of the Central Coast of Australia, as well as Friendship Force of Trujillo in Peru. The visitors spent lots of time enjoying the outdoors, with visits to Adams Falls and Bison ranch in Wyoming, as well as a tour of Denver and a trip to the Denver art museum.

Last year, the Colorado club spent a week in Trujillo as part of a Friendship Force exchange. Next October, Friendship Force of the Rockies will visit the towns of Maringa and Jundiai in Brazil through an exchange program.

Taft, California, U.S.A.
Oct. 20, 2011.

A group of 22 Germans recently visited Taft, California as part of a Friendship Force International exchange focused on learning English.

They checked out the West Kern Oil Museum and had lunch at the Historic Fort. They also visited the Oilworker Monument and met renowned sculptor Benjamin Victor, who just finished two new bronze figures for the monument.

The visitors, who hailed from five cities in Germany, then headed to Death Valley for a couple days before finishing up their U.S. stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

World Friendship Day: March 1, 2012

Building Friendships for a New Generation

World Friendship Day on March 1, 2012, is a great opportunity for Friendship Force clubs everywhere to get the world’s attention with special events in the name of global friendship. This year’s World Friendship Day also marks a special anniversary for our organization – 35 years of promoting understanding across the barriers that separate people.

On the 35th anniversary of the Friendship Force, clubs around the world will celebrate our strong global organization and enduring mission. What a great time to reach out to our communities, to the press, to individuals and to other clubs, in the spirit of forming new connections!

As we celebrate our proud history and enduring mission, we must also look to the future. What will the Friendship Force look like in five years, in ten years, or 35 years into the future?

The theme of this year’s World Friendship Day is: Building Friendships for a New Generation. New members, new programs, and new technology will all play a role in our organization’s future. This March, imagine the future you want for the Friendship Force, and start building it!

• FFI is producing a new 5-7 minute video in honor of the 35th anniversary. Watch for further notices regarding this video and other supporting materials.

• Review the WFD Fact Sheet containing facts about the history of World Friendship Day, and click here to see a list of activities recommended for last year’s celebrations.

• The Friendship Force Online Auction will coincide with World Friendship Day. Donate a hosting opportunity to be bid on, with proceeds benefiting the Legacy Fund. Click here to read more.

• World Friendship Day is a great time to honor your club’s most influential leader with a Wayne Smith Medal. Click here for more information.

What is your club planning for World Friendship Day? Let us know by writing to Communications Coordinator Jillian Walters at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or write to us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/friendshipforce.


FFI Board elects four new members

At its October 15-17 meeting, the FFI Board of Directors elected four new members to serve four year terms beginning January 2012:

Cinda Clark is a member of the Friendship Force of Northern Colorado, USA. She took early retirement from a 20 year career in banking, followed by 12 years as a part time bookkeeper, giving her the flexibility for international travel.  Cinda is a charter member of her club, with extensive leadership experience at the local and regional level. She helped establish two clubs, is past president of the club, has led 20 exchanges and served as a US field representative in the Mountain States Region.

Yury Kazantsev has been a member of the Rostov on Don Friendship Force club since 2007. He has traveled on several outbound exchanges, serving as Exchange Director on a recent exchange to FF Richmond, USA. Yury, former military officer, is a customs broker. He has traveled internationally with his family and also with his work. As a young leader he looks forward to working with the Board to expand opportunities for younger members.

Cecile Latour is a member of the Friendship Force of the Canadian Capital Region where she has been an active host, as well as inbound Exchange Director. Cecile has extensive international experience, having been in the Canadian Foreign Service for 30 years, including service as the Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam.

Karen Overly Smith is a long time member of the Friendship Force in Pennsylvania, USA with connection over the years to both the Harrisburg and Lancaster clubs. She works as a community development policy analyst for Pennsylvania. Karen has served as club president and as Exchange Director to Ghana and China. Most recently she was FFI field representative for the mid-Atlantic and northeastern USA.  Karen has extensive international travel experience.

In electing these four new members, the Board reluctantly said goodbye, with great appreciation, to the following who have completed their terms on the Board: Jack Cang, Tommy Dortch, Dave Kalan, Elza dos Santos and Andrew Stirling.


Friday, October 07, 2011

FFI in the News

Friendship Force of Northern Illinois is blogging!
Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, Illinois, U.S.A.

Check out several great stories from the FF Northern Illinois blog on their local Patch website. The most recent post tells what happened when ambassadors discovered their host in Thailand was a nationally renowned artist!

Many U.S. communities have a Patch website - does yours? If it does, contact your editor! They are a great place to publicize your club.


After a difficult year, Japanese ambassadors enjoy friendships in Canada
Video of FFI gathering in Calgary, Canada

Watch the televison news story from Calgary, Canada, about the Friendship Force delegation from Koriyama, Japan. Their trip was delayed by the tsunami last spring, but they made their visit in August complete with home stays and walking tours of the city. This news clip shows them taking a tour of downtown Calgary and reflecting on the Friendship Force experience.

Click here to see a video entitled “Bon Dance” posted online of the Friendship Force of Calgary and their visiting Japanese ambassadors performing a Japanese dance together.
Click here to see a video of the Japanese ambassadors learning to square dance from their Calgary hosts.

Friendship Force brings group over from Egypt to stay with local families
West Hartford News
West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Connecticut families are hosting 19 Egyptian visitors as part of an exchange through Friendship Force International. The Egyptian ambassadors are enjoying time with their host families, while also visiting many sites and attractions in Connecticut, New York City and Boston. Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman greeted the Egyptians at a private meeting in Hartford.

Click here to read.

Sylvia Nicholson extends the hand of friendship
Messenger Newspapers
Manchester, United Kingdom

Local resident, Sylvia Nicholson, attended the Friendship Force International World Conference in Hamburg, Germany. Nicholson is a member of the Greater Manchester Friendship Force and has hosted ambassadors from Australia, Brazil and Russia.

Clubs from 23 countries were represented at the global conference, and Nicholson said a highlight was meeting members from all over the world and sharing experiences.

Click here to read.

FF Western North Carolina wins Club of the Year
Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA

The Friendship Force of Western North Carolina has been awarded the “Club of the Year” award from Friendship Force International. The award was presented recently at the FFI international conference in Hamburg. It was based on accomplishments from spring 2010 to spring 2011.

Friendship Force of Western North Carolina is based in Hendersonville, North Carolina and was the first FFI club in North Carolina. Members have been participating in international exchanges since 1980.

Click here to read.

International ambassadors discover the American Midwest
THonline.com (The Telegraph Herald)
Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.A.

A group of 30 members of Friendship Force International recently visited Dubuque, Iowa and the Mississippi River Valley. The visitors enjoyed snapping photos of landmarks in downtown Dubuque. The Friendship Force tour started in the Twin Cities and will end in St. Louis.

Read their impressions and see a cool photograph.

GlobalJax teams up with Friendship Force International
Jacksonville.com (The Florida Times-Union)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based group known as GlobalJax is teaming up with Friendship Force International. GlobalJax is a 21-year-old organization that has helped bring visitors from 60 countries to Jacksonville.

Through Friendship Force, GlobalJax will offer an annual cultural exchange — featuring a home stay — with a new country every year. GlobalJax was scheduled to hold a celebration of the new partnership on Oct. 4 at Jacksonville’s main library, featuring guest speaker George Brown, president of Friendship Force International.

Click here to read more.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

You can make a difference! Donate to the Friendship Force Online Auction to support the Legacy Fund.

Each year, your personal and club donations to the Legacy Fund help us expand your network of Friendship Force Clubs.  Most recently, activity in Indonesia, Morocco, Argentina and Albania has expanded, funded in part by the Legacy Fund.  Wouldn’t it be great if every club could make a contribution to the Legacy Fund so we advance the mission of the Friendship Force, and we all get new opportunities to make friends?

Last year the Board of Directors instituted an on-line and silent auction of travel opportunities provided by Friendship Force members. It raised $13,000 for the Legacy Fund! 

On Sunday evening, August 28, attendees of the World Conference will have the opportunity to bid again in a Legacy Fund Silent Auction. But the fun is just beginning! We are preparing to hold another Legacy Fund auction online, with the bidding to close on World Friendship Day, March 1, 2012.

What can you offer?  Homestays, use of a time-share, use of a chalet or holiday house were all very popular last year and drew multiple bidders and strong bids.  Last year’s donors were very pleased with the results: winning bidders and donors made new and lasting friendships.

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to support the growth of the Friendship Force and have lots of fun at the same time. Click here to learn more or donate a travel opportunity.

Thank you,
Andrew Stirling, FFI Board Member


Friday, July 08, 2011

FFI in the News

FF Southern Oregon supports local study abroad students
Mail Tribune, Ashland, Medford and Southern Oregon, USA

Friendship Force of Southern Oregon has found a remarkable way to promote the Friendship Force mission and serve their community at the same time. They are funding an annual study abroad scholarship for Southern Oregon University. The annual gift will provide a summer study abroad opportunity for an SOU student. Junior Christina Burns, who is the first recipient, will travel to Oviedo, Spain.

Click here to read the article.

Friendship Force Cheyenne makes friends and memories in New York
TheFencePost.com, website focused on Colorado, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming, USA

What does Wyoming have in common with New York City? People! The Friendship Force of Cheyenne recently visited New York City on an exchange with the Friendship Force of Long Island. They spent time touring Manhattan, including a visit to Ground Zero. Sites such as the Tenement Museum, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island reminded participants of the common struggles and dreams of their ancestors. Members said the visit was very memorable and filled them with patriotism.

Click here to read the article.

FF Northern Illinois visits 2,500-year-old fire in Azerbaijan
Patch.com, Lake Forest, IL, USA edition

The Friendship Force of Northern Illinois recently visited Yanar Dag, the “Burning Mountain,” on the Caspian Sea near Baku, as part of a Friendship Force exchange to Azerbaijan.

The site is called the Burning Mountain because it is a natural repository of methane gas that has burned continuously for 2,500 years! It is believed to be the inspiration for the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism and other forms of fire-worship in history. 

Click here to read the article.


Friday, July 01, 2011

FFI in the News

New friends bond over alternative energy at Friendship Force festival
Greeley Tribune, Greeley, Colorado, USA

25 Friendship Force ambassadors from the US and Japan are spending this week learning about wind, solar and hydraulic energy, as well as ecological issues, during their weeklong visit to northern Colorado. The northern Colorado chapter of the Friendship Force, which promotes international goodwill around the globe, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“We chose alternative energy as our focal point just because Colorado is a leader of the states in ingenuity,” Betty Jean DeMersseman of FF Northern Colorado says. “I thought if we show the rest of the country what Colorado is doing then they can go home and say, ‘Where are we in the spectrum?’”

Click here to read the article.

Wayne Smith Medal winner Dorothy Anderson reflects on 30 years with the Friendship Force
Taranaki Daily News, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Dorothy Anderson has been all over the world through Friendship Force International exchanges. She was recently awarded the Wayne Smith Medal by the Friendship Force of New Zealand – making her one of only two people in New Zealand to earn it. The award honors exceptional service and leadership.

The 88-year-old New Plymouth woman is still hosting travelers from all over the world on Friendship Force exchanges. She has visited more than 40 countries.

Click here to read the article.

Learning How People Live - Television news coverage of FF Cheyenne and Lethbrigde exchange
CBS 5, Cheyenne, Wyoming and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, USA

The Friendship Force of Lethbridge, Canada, is visiting Cheyenne club members this week. During their stay, they will see Fort Laramie, visit Snowy Range and take Cheyenne’s own trolley ride. The Friendship Force of Cheyenne visited Lethbridge three years ago. 

Cheyenne Friendship Force member Eleanor Hanson spoke to local television reporters, explaining they are showing the Canadians how they live in Cheyenne and some of the things that are important to them. Hanson described what the Friendship Force has meant to her.

Click here to see the video.

Knoxville Mayor presents Japanese friendship ambassadors with Honorable Citizen certificates
City of Knoxville press release, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Knoxville Mayor, Daniel Brown, met with a Friendship Force International delegation from Nagasaki, Japan, and presented them each with Honorable Citizen Certificates.

The Knoxville Friendship Force then took the eleven Japanese visitors around Knoxville. They visited the East Tennessee Museum, the Symphony and art galleries.

Click here to read the article.

Your support was humbling - letter to the editor
South Whidbey Record, Whidbey Island, Washington, USA

This is a letter to the editor from Shirley Hauck, president of Friendship Force of Whidbey Island. She writes to thank the community for its participation in a recent Friendship Force fundraiser event benefiting Japan relief efforts.

Writing a letter to the editor is a great way to express your appreciation to the community and to spread the word about the good work your club is doing. Read Shirley’s letter, and consider whether similar opportunities exist for your club!

Click here to read the letter to the editor.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

FFI in the News

Friends reach across the miles from Washington state to Japan
South Whidbey Record, community news of Whidbey Island, Washington, USA

After Japan was struck by a devastating tsunami and earthquake on March 11, the Friendship Force of Whidbey Island acted immediately to help their Japanese friends.

Members of the Friendship Force of Whidbey Island organized a fundraiser at the Basil Café to benefit those in Japan suffering from the disaster. Friendship Force of Whidbey Island did considerable research to identify a non-profit organization that would make the most of the money raised. The club chose Peace Winds America, a non-profit based in Seattle with a sister organization in Japan. The group works to strengthen disaster preparedness and response in countries near the western Pacific Ocean.

Click here to read the article.

Cultural immersion caught on camera!
TDN.com, daily news of Lower Columbia, Washington, USA

Photo of Aztec dancer Benjamin Villegas of Mexica Tiattui dancing with Renny Isa and Betty Beharoedin who are both from Indonesia. The Indonesians visited the Longview area through Friendship Force International, a nonprofit cultural exchange organization promoting friendship and goodwill through a program of homestay exchanges.

Click here to see the photo.

Friendship Force volunteer honored as “Citizen of the Year” at St. Johns Parade
The Oregonian, newspaper of Portland, Oregon

Thousands of people gathered May 14 for the 49th annual St. Johns parade, one of the most famous neighborhood parades in Portland.

Daeng Kumdee, owner of Thai Cottage Restaurant, was honored as “Citizen of the Year” for her generous food donations over the years and her dedicated work with Friendship Force International, a non-profit cultural exchange organization. (Look for the pink vertical bar halfway through the article to read about Daeng Kumdee.)

Click here to read the article.

Tales of Turkey: Generous people amid wealth of history make for unforgettable journey
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee

BB Tilly, a retired librarian and historian who lives in East Memphis, shares her experience of a Friendship Force International exchange to Turkey. She describes her adventure and the FFI way of traveling into the heart of a country, while learning about the culture and people by living with local families. She also shares her photos.

The Memphis Friendship Force Club’s trip was to Urla, Turkey, where they spent a week with members of the Urla Friendship Force Club. Urla is a resort town on the beautiful Aegean.

Click here to read the article.

Denver Friendship Force lets members be “ambassadors” to other countries
YourHub.com, Denver, Colorado

A fascinating and informative profile of the Denver Friendship Force published on a local news site offers members of the community a way to get involved. Details of past and upcoming exchanges illustrate the unique Friendship Force mission.

Could your club publish something similar in your local news? Give it a try!

Click here to read the article.


Friday, April 29, 2011

What to expect at the World Conference

Friendship Force International
2011 World Conference
Hamburg, Germany
August 26-30, 2011

1. Learning and sharing ideas
Enjoy a variety of fun and informative workshops led by experienced volunteers, staff, and board members. Some workshops will have a fun cultural focus. Others will address important questions such as these:

How does FFI assign exchanges, and how can my club ensure a great year of exchanges?
What are the best new strategies for filling exchanges and screening ambassadors?
How can I help my club increase membership?
Can themed and educational exchanges benefit my club?
Can social media benefit the Friendship Force? How can I create a Facebook page for my club?

2. New in 2011: a multi-lingual conference program!
We are working to make the World Conference more amenable to non-English speakers. One workshop in each session will be available in German or with German interpretation. With a large delegation coming from Japan, we anticipate offering some Japanese interpretation as well. 

3. Special features for Europeans
Workshops and discussion groups led by European leaders will address the unique challenges and opportunities for the Friendship Force in Europe. We will also spotlight initiatives such as Discover USA, which will offer new, interesting exchange programs for ambassadors to the US.

4. Faces and places!
Find friends new and old as you join Friendship Force members from more than 17 countries. Our host club, FF Hamburg, is eager to show you their city with a variety of cultural programs, including a special organ concert at St. Michael’s Church. They will also host a gala banquet with traditional Hanseatic theme. Past attendees say the best part of a Friendship Force World Conference is the people you meet!

Act now!* Click here to register: http://www.regonline.com/2011worldconf
*Post-conference homestays around Germany are limited and very popular. Reserve your spot today.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We’re taking friendship to the high seas – follow the adventure online!

Forty enthusiastic members are representing Friendship Force International on a cultural cruise through Central America and the Panama Canal – President George Brown among them! The cruise is operated by Enrichment Voyages, a program that offers educational, cultural programs and excursions as the 700-passenger cruise ship journeys to diverse ports around the world.

Will Enrichment Voyages and the Friendship Force be a good match? Can we successfully pair cultural cruises with home stays? Will other Enrichment Voyages participants want to join the Friendship Force? We will find out!

George will be blogging from the ship over the next two weeks. Read about his impressions and experiences at http://GeorgesWorldofFriends.blogspot.com. We’ll also be posting each of George’s blog entries on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/friendshipforce, and we’ll be encouraging other participants to post their thoughts and photos there as well.

I hope you’ll enjoy following this adventure online. Cultural cruises, blogging and social media… this could be the beginning of something big for the Friendship Force!

Email Jillian Walters (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) if you have questions.


Friday, April 15, 2011

FFI in the News

Indonesian Students Visit FF Western North Carolina
BlueRidgeNow.com, community news of Blue Ridge, Georgia

Top students from SMA No. 8, a public school in Indonesia, are visiting Western North Carolina this week. The trip, arranged by Friendship Force International, is an opportunity for the students to explore a different culture and make life-long friends. While staying with local families, the students will spend several days visiting schools and partaking in local activities before moving on to Tampa, Fl for the remainder of their trip.

Click here to read the article.

Friendship Force of Marlborough Hosts Brazilians for a Wine Tasting Trip
The Marlborough Express, newspaper of Wellington, New Zealand

Friendship Force of Marlborough recently welcomed nine Brazilian visitors for an eight-day wine-lovers trip. Members of the Florianopolis chapter of Friendship Force visited many wineries around the region from April 4th to 11th. The Brazilians then left on a five-day South Island bus tour.

Click here to read the article.

East Coast Regional Conference Spreads the Friendship Force Message
The Daily Progress, local news of Charlottesville, VA

Members of various Friendship Force chapters from New England through the Mid-Atlantic met in Charlottesville last weekend for a regional conference.

They told the newspaper that Friendship Force exchanges are an inexpensive way to travel, meet people from other cultures, form lasting friendships and build relationships between countries. In 2007, about 6,000 Friendship Force ambassadors traveled between 58 countries and thousands more served as hosts.

Click here to read the article.

Rex Farrow, a Club President, Shares his Experiences Traveling with the Friendship Force
Bay of Plenty Times, a newspaper of Tauranga, New Zealand

A feature on the Western Bay of Plenty Friendship Force — a group of intrepid travelers who love immersing themselves in other countries’ cultures and customs. This local New Zealand chapter was founded in 1989 and has 55 members.

Rex Farrow, the group’s president, said it’s a great experience to travel overseas and live with people in their own homes to gain a better understanding of how they live. He added that it creates lasting friendships around the world.

Click here to read the article.

Friendship Force of Big Canoe Hosts Photographer Randy Lewis for Club Meeting
Bigcanoenews.com, community news of Big Canoe, Georgia

Award-winning photographer Randy Lewis will be the guest speaker at the April 17th meeting of the Friendship Force of Big Canoe/North Georgia. Everyone is invited to hear Randy speak about photography and learn about travel opportunities and experiences offered by Friendship Force.

Click here to read the article.

Friendship Force Hiroshima President to Speak as Atomic Bomb Survivor
Berkshires.com, local news of North Adams, Massachusetts

The president of the Friendship Force Hiroshima Club will speak at the Koussevitzky Arts Center at Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts on April 5th at 12:15 p.m.

Hiroshima survivor Takaaki Morikawa will share his personal history of the event and show “The Lost Generation,” a film about the effects of the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Morikawa was six years old when the bomb exploded about five miles away from him, and he still carries vivid memories of that day.

Morikawa, who had a long career in the automotive industry, has worked overseas and traveled to 45 countries.

Click here to read article.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

High school bands make music and friends with the Friendship Force

ATLANTA – Students from the Dunwoody High School band and the Decatur High School band in Georgia, USA, are going abroad April 1st on cultural exchanges for spring break.

The trips are coordinated by Friendship Force International, an Atlanta-based organization promoting friendship and goodwill through exchanges in more than 50 countries.

Fifty-eight students from the Dunwoody High School band will visit a local high school band in Bavaria, Germany. The bands will play music together, and the Dunwoody High School band will perform for the mayor. The Dunwoody students will explore the ancient Roman town of Regensburg and the historic village of Bamberg. In addition, they will visit the document center that houses historical information about the Nuremberg Trials.

“They will have great musical experiences and form life-time friendships, and they will get to know on a personal level about a part of the world that none of them is familiar with,” said Will Henderson, band director at Dunwoody High School.

The Decatur High School band will visit a local high school band in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas, Mexico. They will perform in a parade together, and the Decatur band will put on a performance attended by the governor. The 40 students from Decatur will also enjoy a reception at City Hall hosted by the mayor, as well as visits to museums, monuments and Indian villages.

“The Chiapas trip is a great opportunity for our students to see music and culture in a place very unlike what they experience every day in Decatur,” said Megan Williams, band director at Decatur High School. “The students will have a life-changing trip and come home with a renewed perspective on the world around us.”

Friendship Force International has been coordinating band exchanges for Decatur High School for more than 10 years. The band has been to Japan, Germany, England, Slovakia and Belgium.

This unique program gives American high school band students the opportunity to spend a week with band students in another country. The visiting students (ambassadors) are paired with local host families who introduce them to their culture, school and daily life. They tour places of cultural relevance together, and the bands may perform together.

The exchange allows students to experience different kinds of music and meet other musicians. On a deeper level, it provides a unique opportunity for teenagers to experience another culture, said Jillian Walters, communications coordinator for Friendship Force International.

“These teenage ambassadors and hosts may be very different from each other, but the band, the practicing, the joy of performance and the love of music — these are things they all have in common,” said Walters. “By meeting and becoming friends with the student musicians of another country, they see that their differences don’t divide them.”

Founded in 1977, Friendship Force International organizes an extensive program of home hosting or exchanges in more than 50 countries.

In addition to exchanges between established Friendship Force clubs, Friendship Force International conducts a variety of specialized travel programs. These include the “discover” series that introduces Friendship Force members to new countries and cultures; humanitarian and educational exchanges; and Friendship Festivals that include participants from many countries.

The Friendship Force believes that each and every person can make an important contribution to the world. To learn more, visit http://www.thefriendshipforce.org.

For more information on high school band exchanges, please contact Jillian Walters at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (404) 965-4359.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Regarding the situation in Japan

The following letter was sent to club presidents and vice presidents on March 15, 2011.

Dear friends,

Just as our friends in Christchurch, New Zealand, began trying to recover from the earthquake there, the terrible disaster struck Japan. Our hearts go out to all the people in the areas affected by the earthquakes.

This is a devastating tragedy for Japan. The Friendship Force family in Japan stretches across the entire nation and includes the Friendship Force of Miyagi, which is located in and around the area of Sendai – the area that has been hit hardest by the earthquake, the tsunami and now the radiation leak from the nuclear power plant.

The most recent reports we have received from our leaders in Japan indicate that the Friendship Force members in the area are safe, but some have suffered damage and all are in shock over the devastation.

Now the entire Japanese nation is not only mourning the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami, but they are also living with the unknown outcome of the damage to the nuclear power plant. We are all hoping and praying that this problem is quickly solved without any more damage.

We understand that the months ahead will be difficult ones for our Japanese members. The staff of FFI is already working directly with all clubs that have exchanges to or from Japan in the weeks ahead, and we will make any necessary adjustments.

Many people around the world are asking how they can help. We encourage those people who want to provide financial support to make donations to organizations like the Red Cross that are already organizing major relief efforts. We know those donations will be well spent. In the long run there may be other ways for Friendship Force members to get personally involved with the recovery process, but that will come later.

Please click here to read the Friendship Force International policy statement regarding financial assistance to disaster areas. Please let us hear from you via email if you have questions or suggestions.

In friendship,

George Brown
President, FFI


Friday, February 25, 2011

FFI in the News

Friendship Force of Western Colorado hosts World Friendship Day Open House
KREX-TV NewsChannel 5, a western Colorado news station

Friendship Force of Western Colorado is celebrating “World Friendship Day” on Saturday March 12 with an open house. It will feature informational displays on each of the 20 countries that their Friendship Force chapter has visited or hosted. Friendship Force members will be there to answer questions and serve refreshments from each of the countries displayed.

Click here to read the article.

International Brotherhood for World Friendship Day
The Oakland Tribune, news of the Bay Area

The Bay Area Friendship Force will celebrate World Friendship Day with an event focused on Pakistan and international brotherhood. The free event will feature guest speaker Sahar Ghazi, an American-born journalist of Pakistani descent who worked in Pakistan for several years. She will be sharing her experiences and thoughts about the nation where she helped launch the country’s first English-language television station and produced a documentary on U.S.-Pakistan relations called “The Disposable Ally.”

In addition, the World Friendship Day event will feature Johannes and Anna Maria Brodel performing works by Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. The event is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at the First United Methodist Church.

Click here to read the article.

Friendship Force of Sacramento invites you to World Friendship Day
accesssacramento.org, a Sacramento, California event calendar

The Friendship Force of Sacramento will be hosting a community event for World Friendship Day on March 6, 2011 from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm at the Fair Oaks Community Center Auditorium in Fair Oaks, California. Stop by to enjoy cultural displays, crafts, and entertainment.

Click here to read the article.

Making Friends in Bundaberg
Bundaberg NewsMail, community news of Bundaberg, Australia

When the Australian national Friendship Force conference came to Bundaberg, it inspired many new friendships.

The three day conference, attended by close to 220 members, brought together people from across the country to learn about the exchange process. Members shared stories, listened to local representatives, and celebrated the 20th birthday of the Bundaberg Friendship Force Branch.

Click here to read the article.

Make a Difference on World Friendship Day
dBusinessNews.com, business newsletter of Atlanta, Georgia

World Friendship Day 2011 is the perfect opportunity to make a difference in the world — right in your own backyard.

The theme of World Friendship Day 2011, which will be observed around the world on March 1, is “Make a Difference.” Created five years ago by Friendship Force International, World Friendship Day is celebrated as citizens of the world organize special events in the name of global friendship. Celebrate the day by organizing an event that will have a positive impact on your community. 

Click here to read the article.

Flooded Brazilian town close to the hearts of Friendship Force Greater Manchester
Messenger Newspapers, local news of Manchester, England

Greater Manchester Friendship Force members from Trafford, England were especially concerned when they learned of the terrible flooding in Teresopolis, Brazil in January.

The English club has a long history with the affected region, having both visited the Rio club and hosted an exchange for them as well. Their visit to the area took place four years ago when they stayed in the now flooded and landslide-ravaged town of Teresopolis. As guests of the Rio de Janeiro Friendship Force, they attended a party there at the holiday home of Anna Maria Endler, president of the Rio Club. Fortunately, they were able to learn via email that Endler and her home were safe.

Click here to read the article.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Friendship Force International Online and Silent Auction is back by popular demand!

• Spread the word – Offer up a homestay, use of a time-share, use of a holiday house, etc., for bidding to raise money for the Legacy Fund, and retain ONE THIRD of the funds for your own club!

• Last year the auction raised $13,000. It’s your chance to be a part of expanding the Friendship Force network around the globe.

• Don’t delay! Contact Board Member Andrew Stirling at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to put your travel opportunity up for auction!

Dear friends,

Each year, your personal and club donations to the Legacy Fund help us expand your network of Friendship Force Clubs.  Most recently, activity in Indonesia, Morocco, Argentina and Albania has expanded, funded in part by the Legacy Fund.  Wouldn’t it be great if every club could make a contribution to the Legacy Fund so we advance the mission of the Friendship Force, and we all get new opportunities to make friends?

Last year the Board of Directors instituted an on-line and silent auction as a trial run. This was very successful and added $13,000 to the Legacy Fund.  The 35 auction items were given by board members themselves, by past members, field reps and some clubs that “got into the swing” early enough. 

The trial run showed that if we start earlier and get many more clubs involved we can probably raise considerably more…and in a very painless way.  The auction also had some unexpected benefits.  Winning bidders and donors have made new friendships and are excited to meet each other. And ambassadors on pre-existing exchanges have been able to add short home-stays in nearby cities.

We have also learned that in 2011 we should have both an online and a silent auction component, because attendees at the World Conference often outbid the online bidders who were unaware of the higher bid.

To maximize the benefit for the work involved it is necessary to start early in 2011.  The sooner the offers are listed, the earlier we can advise outbound ambassadors of the chance to bid on them.  This is necessary because people make plans to travel and buy tickets many months before travelling.

It would be really helpful if clubs and individuals could consider making an offering to the Auction at their February or March meeting so that the items can get listed early.  But if not, later offerings will be welcomed, of course.

What can you offer?  Homestays, use of a time-share, use of a chalet, holiday house etc. were very popular last year and drew multiple bidders and strong bids.  Though many of the bidders are in North America, offers from other countries are really valuable and particularly if made early.  Last year’s offer to “Climb Mt Fuji and stay a week in Tokyo” and “Stay a week in Yogyakarta, Indonesia” were good examples of these offers. 

Please put this request for help on the agenda of your next board meeting AND spread it among members for individual offers as soon as you get this letter.  Send your offer to FFI Board Member and Auction Coordinator, Andrew Stirling, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  The Auction can really help expand Friendship Force if every club and every member thinks of what they can give.  (As per last year, clubs may retain one third of the funds raised for club development purposes.)

In friendship,
Andrew Stirling, FFI Board of Directors
George Brown, FFI President


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FFI in the News

Centerville-Washington Foundation honors local couple as Community Founders
TCNewsNet.com, community news of Dayton, Ohio
Friendship Force members David and Doris Ponitz are recognized for their community service and their contributions to international communities. Doris led the first Friendship Force exchange to Sarajevo, and David has been instrumental in starting community colleges in Qatar and India.
Click here to read article

Friendship Force Somerset prepares for Japanese visitors
ThisIsSomerset.co.uk, a news and information website for Somerset county in England
Click here to read the article


Monday, August 23, 2010

FFI in the News

Friendship Force prepares for Costa Rica trip
PennLive.com, news and information Web site about Central Pennsylvania
Click here to read the article


Monday, August 16, 2010

FFI in the News

Australian ambassadors to experience a bit of Iowa life
The Tribune, newspaper of central Iowa, USA
Click here to read the article

Indonesian students show their appreciation
BlueRidgeNow.com, newspaper of Blue Ridge region of North Carolina, USA
Click here to read the article


Monday, August 09, 2010

German volunteers save the day for stranded Brazilian ambassadors

Sixteen Brazilian ambassadors in Germany were almost stranded when their trip to Moscow, the middle week of a 25-day exchange, was called off due to increasingly dangerous weather conditions in the Russian capital.

The Brazilian ambassadors were participating in the Schwerin festival and homestay and were scheduled to leave Saturday, August 7, to spend a week with FF Korolev in the suburbs of Moscow before heading on to Estonia. But by Wednesday it was apparent that travel to Moscow would be impossible.

Wildfires resulting from record heat in Russia filled the capital with “an acrid, choking haze,” the Associated Press reported. Friendship Force members in Korolev and Moscow contacted FFI Headquarters reporting difficulty breathing in the city.

Many members who were supposed to host ambassadors have instead had to take in displaced relatives, whose villages were consumed in the blaze.

With only three days left for their German homestay, the Brazilians worried that they would not be able to find another host in time. With their Estonian hosts still expecting them the following week, they needed somewhere to go.

To their credit, many Friendship Force members across Germany came forward to offer whatever help they could provide, even if it was only a day or two of hosting.

The best solution came from the Friendship Force of Varel, whose members rallied to take in all 16 ambassadors for the full week.

FFI President George Brown applauded FF Varel and everyone who volunteered to help. “They demonstrated flexibility and strong leadership in taking responsibility in an emergency. They have the desire to serve the cause of friendship and the needs of others, and that comes from an appreciation of all people across the world,” Brown said.

FFI Headquarters extends its sympathy to our members in Moscow and the surrounding region as they endure these difficult times. We will continue to follow the situation closely. Click here to read more about the situation in Moscow.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

June 3, 2010

Between 1983 and 2009, Friendship Force International (FFI) published a magazine by the name of Friendship.  Thousands of members enjoyed receiving this colorful and informative publication about the global activities of the Friendship Force. The subscription cost was minimal, but because of the time and cost of international postage, most subscribers were in the United States and Canada. 

We now are pleased to begin publication of the next generation of Friendship as an on-line magazine. You’ll see the first issue in the website with a fascinating cover story about an exchange to Morocco. Reading the article and seeing the photos will make you want to join the next such exchange—and there is information attached on how you can do so. 

But you’ll notice that for now the magazine has only a cover story. The rest of the magazine is being developed and will include timely articles on exchanges, clubs, and other news of interest to all members.

Best of all, the new Friendship will be accessible to everyone on the web, and it will be free of charge! As the magazine becomes complete in the months ahead we’ll be providing email alerts when the new issue is ready for all to see. 

Like any good magazine, we will want to incorporate your ideas and feedback. Let us hear from you regarding what you would like to see. And if you have an article or idea to submit, please do so by sending it to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Copyright © 2016 Friendship Force International. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
Use of this site is subject to the terms and conditions outlined on the legal page. Contact Us
Friendship Force International is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.