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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Make a Friend and Make a Difference – World Friendship Day, March 1

Friendship Force International urges building bridges of understanding through friendships.

ATLANTA, Feb. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On March 1, the 15th anniversary of the founding of World Friendship Day, Atlanta-based Friendship Force International again encourages citizens of Georgia and the world to “Make a friend and make a difference.”

“Our world today is more divided than ever,” said Jeremi Snook, President and CEO of Atlanta-based Friendship Force International. “This year’s theme to ‘Make a friend and make a difference’ asks people around the world to recognize the power of a united humanity, and extend a hand of friendship. That seemingly small act, multiplied millions of times around the world, will indeed make a difference!”

World Friendship Day was founded by Friendship Force International and is officially recognized annually by the United States Senate and other governing bodies around the world that encourage people to get to know one another better. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once said, “International friendship is a powerful antidote to war.”

The value of friendships in making the world a more peaceful place:

A study by The Ohio State University in 2017 found that war and international conflicts are less likely between two countries when the people know each other and/or have business, academic, or cultural ties.

Friendship on a global scale has a direct impact on world peace and matters to the survival of humanity. The core idea is that friendship can inspire people to build bridges between economic classes, neighborhoods, cultures, interest groups, and anywhere else there’s division or doubt. (Source: The United Nations).

A study of Israeli and Palestinian teens interacting in the Seeds of Peace Camp found that regardless of their initial attitudes, the campers who were able to form just one close relationship with someone from the other group were the ones who developed the most positive attitudes toward the other group. (Schroeder and Risen, University of Chicago, writing in the New York Times).

Today, Journeys of exploration, education, service or cultural immersion can be arranged in more than 60 countries around the world, where more than 15,000 Friendship Force members open their hearts, homes, and communities to world travelers eager to immerse themselves in local cultures to build bridges across the barriers that separate people.

Contact: Andy Bowen
[email protected]

Friday, September 13, 2019

2019 FFI World Conference Wrap-Up

More than 430 delegates from 23 countries had a great time learning and socializing at the 2019 World Conference in Boulder, CO, USA!

With the majestic Flatiron mountain range as a scenic backdrop, a total of 432 Friendship Force delegates from 23 countries participated in Friendship Force’s 41st World Conference, held on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder from July 23 to 26.

The conference was joint-hosted by the Friendship Force clubs of the Rocky Mountain Region. “We want to welcome all to our beautiful region,” declared Sue Palmer, the regional Field Representative. “This week will be full of opportunities to participate in activities, socialize, and learn. Our hope is that you will return home with a feeling of revitalization.”

And what a week it was! The Colorado Friendship Force clubs are to be congratulated on hosting and helping to coordinate such an action-packed week that included numerous outdoor activities in a state known for its vast mountains, lakes, and rivers.

In our traditional ceremony, the World Conference Host Cup was passed to Sue and the Rocky Mountain Region by Andrew Kelly of Manchester, UK, as the 2017 hosts of our World Conference.

We were honored to be welcomed to Boulder by the Honorable Suzanne Jones, Mayor of Boulder, who closed out her inspiring welcoming speech with these simple words: “The world needs you!”


Friendship Force International President and CEO Jeremi Snook inspired us with an exciting look into the future that included:

  • plans for significant growth in the number of clubs and travel opportunities
  • outreach to both our traditional and younger demographics,
  • translation of all FFI materials into the eight most widely-used languages
  • a more effective use of technology
  • a more efficient and interactive communication with our global membership.

He captivated us with a heartwarming personal story about locating a distant relative in Belize with the help of a stranger-turned-friend.

Click here to watch Jeremi’s opening address to the conference delegates.

View Jeremi’s PowerPoint presentation here. 

Dr. Michael D. English, the Core Instructor for the Peace, Conflict, and Security Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, motivated us to grow the influence of Friendship Force around the world because, “Relationships are catalysts for peace. In this era of polarization, we must reduce the gaps between us!”

Dr. English, who holds a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, cited studies, research, and historical data concluding that “positive memories of other groups during a conflict help in resolution of the conflict.” That is, individuals who know each other are less likely to endure a protracted conflict. Of course, he observed, the converse is so true: peoples who do not know each other and do not understand each other are more likely to suffer more protracted conflicts.

“The Contact Theory shows the power of citizen diplomacy,” he declared.

View Dr. English’s presentation here. 


  • Outstanding Volunteer of the Year: Don Titterton, FF Albany, Western Australia (accepted by FFI Board Chair Bobbie Mulholland, pictured) 

Two years ago, Don Titterton and his partner, Rosalie, began work on a Global Biodiversity Journey to Southwestern Australia. Unfortunately, part way through the planning, Rosalie passed away and Don was left not only to grieve, but also to carry out their vision along with the assistance of the Albany club. This involved complex public relations, planning and negotiations with the local Indigenous people, as well as calling on experts in the fields of geology, recent history, botany and fauna. In October 2018, the final result was a very successful journey with ambassadors from all over the world … and a dream realized. Most of the ambassadors had not experienced eco-tourism before, and the diversity of the Australian landscape, the spectacular scenery, the beautiful native flora and fauna, and the importance of the ancient geological discoveries left the visitors spellbound. Ambassadors were also given insights into the aboriginal culture and the impact of colonization in the region. Locally, the Albany Club supported this venture and organized many meals, hosted, and drove many miles, but it was Don’s enthusiasm, charm, and insight into the local biodiversity which made this Journey such a resounding success and resulted in growth for his local club. Numerous letters from the ambassadors have been printed in the local press, congratulating him on his efforts and innovation in promoting such a fascinating program.

  • Outstanding Club of the Year: FF Greater Sacramento, California, USA (accepted by club president, Helen Flach)

This club has developed a Best Practices Process for running their club that has led to its continued success and exponential growth. In 2017 their membership grew by 21 members, and in 2018 grew by 28 members. Some of their best practices include promoting Friendship Force at local travel Meet-Ups, multiple fundraising projects, building camaraderie, providing training for members, hosting regional and super-regional conferences, successfully hosting and traveling outbound on multiple domestic and international Journeys, creative use of technology through an interactive website, and utilizing creativity in member recruitment. The club has also incorporated a big push in marketing and publicity with its use of social media and blogs, while also providing presentations to other groups such as Lifelong Learning. They even train others how to use photography to tell the Friendship Force story. This list barely scratches the surface of all of the best practices the Friendship Force of Greater Sacramento is using to keep its club healthy and growing.

  • The Inaugural Charlene Terrell Lifetime Achievement Award*: Don and Elizabeth Rea (posthumously), FF Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (accepted on their behalf by members of FF Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley)

Don and Betty were instrumental in founding the Friendship Force of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, USA, in 1992. Not only was Don a founding father, but he has continued to be active within the club over the years. In 1994 Don coordinated the hosting of the Shanty Choir from Varel, Germany. With his leadership, all 72 members of the German group were hosted. Don and Betty exemplified the ideals of Friendship Force in their daily lives. From as early as 1968, Don, Betty, and their sons were joined by visitors from many countries: Jeff from Australia, Helmut from Chile, two young women from Hungary, and William, a refugee from Vietnam, who became their ‘fifth son’ changing his last name to Rea and then becoming a US citizen.

  • The Second Inaugural 2019 Charlene Terrell Lifetime Achievement Award: César Ardila (posthumously), FF Bogota, Colombia (accepted in his memory by César’s widow, Cuqui Gamboa-Ardila)

César embodied the mission of Friendship Force and dedicated nearly his entire adult life to furthering its cause on many levels. He leaves a legacy of creating friendships both at home and around the world, through his personal example and many years of Friendship Force leadership. In 1983, when he helped launch the Friendship Force of Bogota, Colombia was a country struggling with serious internal issues and suffering from an extremely poor reputation worldwide. Knowing how genuinely warm and wonderful Colombians really are, César chose to do his best to overcome that image. Simultaneously, he re-ignited Colombian citizens’ pride in themselves, showcasing the best of Colombian culture, hospitality, and ability to develop sincere and lasting relationships. His personal qualities of humor, warmth, sincerity, hard work and energetic leadership made him a role model who embodied the spirit of this award. Through his efforts as a club founder, President, Journey Coordinator (for themed and global Journeys), and an overall FFI champion, César touched so many people around the world. He won the hearts and minds of Bogota’s club members as they all helped improve Colombia’s image, one friend at a time.

* To commemorate her many contributions to the organization, including authoring the book “The Other Side of the Mountain” which chronicles the first 20 years of Friendship Force, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed after Charlene Terrell, a late member of FF Big Canoe-North Georgia, USA.


The amazing lineup of learning opportunities included enriching presentations on global outreach, new initiatives, and fine-tuning our skills and talents as ambassadors of friendship.

The sessions included:

Find all available handouts and presentations here. 


Even though we were engaged in a record number of workshops and seminars, (including major presentations during the plenary session and other times), we still had ample time for outside group activities. Many of us will recall which one of these was the most fun!

  • “Bluegrass in Boulder” Barbecue Dinner and Celebration
  • Mindfulness Seminar
  • Electric Bike Tour
  • Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour
  • Hiking Chautauqua
  • Boulder Foodie Tour
  • Farmers’ Market Tour
  • Canoeing & Nature Tour
  • “Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity”/”Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd” Fiske Planetarium
  • Morning photo walks with Rozlynn Worrall
  • Kanta Okidokitei, from Mie, Japan, performing Rakugo, the traditional Japanese art of comedy storytelling

Hear three delegates discuss the importance of Friendship Force:







View the photo gallery!


Thanks to the generous donors listed below, we were able to bring delegates from the following countries to this world conference: Bhutan, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Japan, Nepal, Russia, Sweden, Tanzania, and the USA.

Scholarship Donors: Robert Anderson, Felisa Anthony, Jane Bardon, Shirley Barker, Rita Becchetti, Ina Bornheim, Andrew Bowen, Roberta Brabec, Jacqueline Bunke, Gena Cameron, Katherine Campbell, Rita Cheek, John Christensen, Craig Cornwell, Mary Cunningham, Jo Custead, Lisa Denhartog, Gary Drescher, Constance DuBois, Leslie Eckstat, Rita English, Kathleen B. Evans, Barbara Fickes, Rose Ann Foreman, Anne Gabriel, Marilyn Garner, Mavis Grant, Stephen Hample, Kathy Herring, Janette House, Kathy Hsu, Daniel Hunsberger, Catherine Jensen, Alan Johnson, Roger Kaiser, Andrew, Kelly, Ikuko Koriyama, Debbie Lattey, J.B. MacDonald, Ramona McGee, Kimberly Means, Carolyn Meyer, Christine Michalek, Luree Miller, Susan Moyer, Bobbie Mulholland, Hiroshi Onishi, Charles Pallas, Charles Park, Marilyn Peterson, Gerry Pollatos, Thomas Scott, Nobuko Shimada, Judith Single, Christopher Smith, Julianne Smith, Aya Takado, Hiromi Tanaka, Barbara Taylor, Fay Terrell, Lynne Van Valin, Gustave Vanbellingen, Sherry Wileman, Nathan Wood, Dunwoody Woman’s Club, Friendship Force of Australia, Friendship Force of Big Canoe/North Georgia, Friendship Force of Birmingham, Friendship Force of Dallas, Friendship Force of Denver, Friendship Force of Los Angeles, Friendship Force of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Friendship Force of Oklahoma, Friendship Force of Sacramento, Friendship Force of Sarasota, and Friendship Force of Western North Carolina.


This Friendship Force World Conference was sponsored in part by the Department of Peace, Conflict and Security Studies, the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Additional thanks to:

  • Mayor Suzanne Jones
  • Dr. Michael English; Peace, Conflict and Security Program
  • Professor Bryan Taylor; Peace, Conflict and Security Program
  • Sue Palmer, FF Host Committee Chair
  • Kay Thomas, Conference Homestay Coordinator
  • Members of the Friendship Force in Colorado
  • Host families and hosting organizers in Northern Colorado, Denver, Grand Junction, Greater Cincinnati, Dallas, Pikes Peak Region, and Cheyenne

International Board of Directors in Attendance:

  • Bobbie Mulholland, Chair
  • James Permana, Treasurer
  • Christiane Beaupre
  • Chuck Goldfarb
  • Hiro Onishi
  • Lynette Hargreave
  • Marilyn Peterson

And finally, we are planning for our 2021 Global Conference to be held in Taiwan!

Begin preparing now and don’t miss it!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Presenting the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan

The 2019-2021 Strategic Plan outlines the important focus of the International Board of Directors, FFI Headquarters, and our 350+ clubs and 15,000+ members worldwide.


Click here to view a full-screen version.


Click here for a downloadable PDF version for printing.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FFI Welcomes New Staff and Board Members in 2019

The beginning of a new year brought fresh new faces to both Friendship Force Headquarters and the International Board of Directors, with the addition of Regional Support Managers Britton Holmes and Carolina Moore, and new Board Members Christiane Beaupré, Chuck Goldfarb, and Marilyn Peterson.

Taking over FFI’s work with the Open World Leadership Center Program, Britton Holmes is a new Regional Support Manager on FFI staff. Hailing from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, she focused on International Studies, Political Science, and Spanish at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Britton also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua as an environmental education primary school teacher, and she has traveled a lot throughout Latin America.

“I am so excited to join FFI’s global network of people who share the mission of building mutual respect and cultural understanding through travel and friendship,” she said.  Britton will focus on supporting the work of U.S. clubs as they plan and host Open World delegations.

FFI Headquarters also welcomes Carolina Moore as the new Regional Support Manager for Latin America, responsible for Spanish-speaking Latin American countries as Laura Romero continues her work as Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation. Carolina is originally from Santiago, Chile, but lived for the past 8 years with her family in Melbourne, Australia, where her husband is from. She and her family moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area just last year.

Carolina has a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, and her work experience has been mostly in the tourism industry and marketing. She also speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and she has traveled extensively through North and South America, the Caribbean, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. “Everyone at Friendship Force has been very friendly and supportive,” said Carolina. “I feel very lucky and committed to be part of this family now.”

Additionally, the Friendship Force International Board of Directors introduces new appointees each year as other members step down. The Board welcomes Christiane Beaupré from Montreal, Canada; Chuck Goldfarb from Washington, DC, USA; and Marilyn Peterson from Albany, Oregon, USA as they begin their terms in 2019.

Please visit the Board of Directors page and take a moment or two to read the biographies of these enthusiastic members – and the other nine Board of Directors members as well.

Welcome to Friendship Force, everyone!

Featured Journey of the Quarter: The 2019 African Regional Conference, Hosted by FF Cairo, Egypt

Our Featured Journey of the Quarter is January’s African Regional Conference hosted by FF Cairo, Egypt. About 40 delegates from six clubs total attended the Conference, with members from Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, along with a significant contingent of members from the host club of FF Cairo.

In attendance from FFI Headquarters was Director of Operations Debbie Powell, who opened the Conference’s first full day of meetings and workshops with “Friendship Force 101.” This session included basic background on the organization, history, philosophy, expectations of members and clubs, what FFI can do for you, how to train hosts, recruiting new members and hosts from the community, how the matching process works, a network overview with updates from HQ and around the world etc. President and CEO Jeremi Snook joined via video conference talk about the Strategic Plan with delegates.

“It was a pleasure to spend three days with such an enthusiastic group of club leaders and members,” said Debbie. “Many were learning about Friendship Force for the first time and taking their newfound knowledge back home to build a stronger Friendship Force presence in their communities.

The next day started with a thrilling cultural excursion to see the famed Pyramids and Sphinx. Afterwards, the group received a private tour of underground tombs by a local archaeologist who was a friend of FF Cairo Club President, Hanaa Rashad. Workshops continued that afternoon, with members looking at challenges for African clubs and how they could solve or reduce them. Delegates also learned about materials and resources available from FFI, and then split into national delegations to discuss more specific local issues. FFI Regional Support Manager for Africa, Valerie Malfara, joined the Conference virtually that day to greet everyone.

The delegates came to the conclusion that more inter-African communication and collaboration was needed to help the members feel more connected, to share ideas, and to build on the camaraderie that had developed over the three days. “It was great to see how innovative the delegates were, suggesting an African Whatsapp discussion group and committing to sending more news stories and photos to FFI in order to improve their visibility. These first steps will go a long way towards creating a stronger Friendship Force in Africa,” explained Debbie.

This FFI African Regional Conference “…was successful and highly educational,” according to Terry Gichuiya, President of FF Nairobi, Kenya, and delegates left feeling inspired and energized.

FF Cairo President Hanaa Rashad agreed, saying “It was a good opportunity to meet African members and be close to them and listen to their challenges and their problems and know more about their countries and their culture.” Hedayet Kamal, a member of FF Cairo for almost thirty years, felt it was a good experience overall for her, saying “It was very interesting to meet members of the Friendship Force clubs in Africa and [see] how enthusiastic they are to establish strong clubs in their countries and to resolve the problems they face.”

Debbie concluded, “I really want to extend thanks, on behalf of the whole group, to Hanaa Rashad, Club President of FF Cairo for making all the arrangements and for her warm hospitality.” Thank you also to all of the African delegates and members of host club FF Cairo for making our organization stronger on your continent!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Featured Club of the Quarter: FF Sacramento Blazes Trail for FFI Photography Club Clusters

By: Rozlynn Worrall, Volunteer Coordinator, FFI Photography Club Clusters, Member of FF Sacramento, California, USA

Editor’s Note: FFI Photography Club Cluster Volunteer Coordinator Rozlynn Worrall, wrote the following article to highlight the successes and fun her club has had with their vibrant Photography Club Cluster, “The Shutterbugs.” This initiative allows FF members interested in photography to learn and practice skills with each other in their own club and through a wider Friendship Force network. Read below to find out what this group does and how your club can form one and learn more about photography too!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –Lao Tzu

Sacramento Shutterbugs photo shooting on a nature safari

The FF Sacramento Photography Club Cluster Shutterbugs have been the trailblazers for the FFI Photography Club Cluster initiative in 2018, meeting on a regular basis since last year to collaboratively teach one another about the elements of composition, genre, taking photographs, and uploading photos to their club cluster’s FF Sacramento Shutterbugs/Shutterfly Share Site.  

Leading a new program has been an adventure, and no adventure comes about without some twists, turns, and hills to climb. The biggest challenge for any innovative group is to find a way that breaks a new trail alongside the tried and true. It first, takes commitment to the FFI mission and the goal to spread the word and share the images of Friendship Force. Here are some details on how FF Sacramento has developed a successful Photography Club Cluster!

Communications: One of the FFI Sacramento Shutterbugs advantages is access to our club’s website powered by Wild Apricot that has an Upcoming Event Registration page with automatic reminders to members. This has been extremely helpful to leaders to plan for setup and to members who wish to carpool to a meeting. The registration page lists attendees, thereby assisting those interested in carpooling to the meeting.

FF Sacramento also produces a monthly digital newsletter that usually includes an article on the Photo Cluster’s activities, shares their photography, and encourages and welcomes new members throughout the year. Through their attendance and participation in Photo Cluster meetings, Regional Field Representatives, club president, club vice president, and activities director have all communicated their enthusiasm and support of the FFIPhotoCC initiative.

Meeting the Needs of Members: FF Sacramento Shutterbugs now have 8 – 15 active members, with wide ranging photography and editing skill levels from beginners to advanced.  Two-thirds of the cluster use a phone or tablet as their primary camera, one-third use small automatic preset cameras or Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras.  

Leading meetings in 2018 rotated between four cluster leaders. Each leader utilized the Monthly Focus and Quarterly Challenge to frame the content of the meetings drew on the resources provided from the FFIPhotoCC Share Site or created their own agenda.  

While it has been a challenge to find a location suitable for most and with proper projection equipment to share photos with one another, we have found a local pizza restaurant that fits the bill – complete with good food and two large HDTVs to display videos and photos.

To accommodate member requests, the FF Sacramento Photography Cluster will be integrating more flexibility into meetings dates with more photo shoots and meshing times with regular activities and general meeting days. This year, the Shutterbugs are also trying out online meetings in addition to in-person meetings to allow for more remote participation and facilitate meetings of special interest groups within the Club Cluster.

FF Clubs interested in forming a photography cluster are invited to contact the FF Sacramento Shutterbugs at [email protected] and to check out their FF Sacramento Shutterbugs Share Site which is patterned after the FFIPhotoCC Site. Members are having fun, attracting  new members into the cluster, and producing some wonderful photographs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What is Friendship Force? – Animated Video (Russian)

Learn how Friendship Force works and the ways you can participate, both at home and far away!

Was ist Friendship Force? – Animiertes Video (Deutsch)

Erfahre, wie Friendship Force funktioniert und wie du teilnehmen kannst, sowohl zu Hause als auch in der Ferne!

What is Friendship Force? – Animated Video (Japanese)

Learn how Friendship Force works and the ways you can participate, both at home and far away!

Qu’est-ce que la Friendship Force ? – Animation Vidéo (Français)

Découvrez comment fonctionne Friendship Force et comment vous pouvez participer, chez vous et à l’étranger!

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