Tuesday, August 27, 2013
August - Updates on World Conference, Leadership Tool Kit and More
World Conference in New Orleans: Nov. 23-25, 2013
New Resources on the Tool Kit
Two new modules are now up on the Leadership Resources Tool Kit. Go to “Finding Help at FFI” to find out all about the Program Services Coordinators and how they can help you with club and exchange issues. Go to “Recruiting Ambassadors Online” to find out how FFI can help you recruit through the online exchange catalog and other resources.
Exchange Matching for 2015
This Friday, club presidents will receive the Planning Request Form. It will be due back to FFI by November 1st. Go to the Leadership Resources Tool Kit to learn more about how the exchange matches are made.
Friendship Force Online Auction
The online auction will open next week, so watch for the email announcement. You’ll be able to bid on homestays and other travel experiences offered by FF members around the world. Proceeds will benefit the Legacy Fund.
Deadline Extended for Paint Pals: September 25
International clubs are invited to submit children’s artwork for the Paint Pals exhibition at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. The deadline has been extended to September 25. Read more.
Friday, August 02, 2013
August - Three Important Updates from FFI: Conferences, Exchange Requests, Policies
Today at FFI marks the first three great weeks with our new CEO, Joy DiBenedetto. We are also saying goodbye to our fantastic intern, Amy, after two years of hard work and friendship. Thanks, Amy and Joy!
2014: Planning is already underway for next year’s World Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. The conference will run from October 14 to 16, 2014, and it be held at the Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland. Registration will begin in early 2014.
2015: FFI is thrilled to announce that the 2015 World Conference will be held in Vancouver, Canada. The conference will take place September 11 to 14, 2015. More details will be available as the time approaches.
2. Attention Club Presidents: 2015 exchange matching request process will begin soon
The link to the 2015 online Exchange Matching Request Form will be emailed to club presidents on August 31, 2013.
Please read the General Considerations and Overview of 2014 Exchange Requests and Hosting Capacity carefully before discussing your club’s requests for 2015.
As you’re thinking about your requests, keep in mind the 2015 World Conference in Vancouver, September 2015.
In an attempt to improve the readability of our Club and Exchange Policies, we have reorganized the policies and added a table of contents to the beginning. We hope this improves the document for our volunteers. Click here to download.
NOTE: These are the same 2014 policies that were issued earlier this year, only in a different format. The information has not changed, only the order of the information.
Don’t forget! Upcoming deadlines
- Paint Pals: The deadline to submit international children’s artwork for the Paint Pals exhibition at the 2014 Olympics has been extended to September 10. Read more.
Friday, May 31, 2013
3 Important Updates: Fees, New Staff, and World Conference
Translations: Spanish - Portuguese - German - Russian
Japanese and French translations sent separately.
1. New Policies for 2014: Fee Changes
At its March 2013 meeting, the FFI Board of Directors voted to increase ambassador fees beginning in 2014.
Beginning in 2014, the ambassador fee for exchanges originating outside the USA will be US $140 per week, and the ambassador fee for exchanges originating from the USA will be US $165.
An increase in the FFI club affiliation fee will be delayed until 2015.
Read the full announcement from the Board of Directors for details.
In addition to the new fees, a paragraph about club leadership transition has been added to the 2014 Club and Exchange Policies. Click here to download the 2014 policies – new additions are highlighted in yellow.
Please note: The most current policies can always be found in the Club Resources section of thefriendshipforce.org, on the Documents page.
2. Welcome to the staff, Noriko Kanamoto
Noriko Kanamoto joins the FFI staff in a new position as the Program Services Coordinator for Japan. Noriko is based in Japan, where she will coordinate Japanese exchanges and assist Japanese clubs. She is taking over these responsibilities from Maryam Jordan, who will continue to work with clubs throughout the rest of Asia. Noriko will also translate important documents and facilitate communication between FFI and the Japanese clubs.
Maryam Jordan and Tsuguyo Ishii will work closely with Noriko as she begins her work with Friendship Force.
3. Update: 2013 World Conference in New Orleans
We are very pleased that this year’s world conference will be at full capacity. Six hundred delegates from more than 25 countries are now registered!
Those who have already registered for the conference in New Orleans should have received a bar-coded confirmation email. If you did not receive a confirmation email, please contact Debbie.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Announcing a new partnership for friendship and language-learning
Update: 2013 World Conference
FFI is pleased to announce that we have expanded the capacity of the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans. Approximately 100 spaces are left. If you haven’t already, register today.
FFI announces exciting new partnership for language learning.
Friendship Force International has an exclusive partnership with MyLanguageExchange.com, and it’s a great match.
On MyLanguageExchange.com, you can practice a new language by communicating with a native speaker through online voice chats, text chats or email. Through person-to-person communication, you develop great skills and the confidence to speak up.
Those are great assets to take with you when you travel the world with the Friendship Force. Consider joining My Language Exchange to start practicing a new language before your next exchange.
NEW on the Leadership Resources Tool Kit
1. Club Membership Growth
FF Taupo (New Zealand) was named one of the Outstanding Clubs of 2012 largely due to their successful membership growth strategy. Watch the video and see the presentations explaining the tactics that work for FF Taupo, FF Nara, FF Sacramento and FF Northern Colorado.
2. Media and Publicity
Jean Hyrich of FF Manitoba coordinated television, radio and print publicity for her club’s winter-themed exchange. See the presentation she gave at the 2012 World Conference and read tips for writing a press release, contacting the media and more.
Go to the Leadership Resources Tool Kit.
Reminder to all clubs:
Notice for US Clubs
Welcome, new US Field Reps!
Marilyn Peterson, Pacific Northwest/Northern Rockies
Gordon Carscadden, West Coast and Hawaii
Barbara Guilford, Mountain States
Sandy Gourdine, Florida
Tom Laggy, Southeast
Thank you, outgoing US Field Reps! FFI is grateful for your leadership and service: Robin Baker, Barry Rader, Betty Jean DeMersseman, Roger Gatlin, and John Wilhelm.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
World Friendship Day 2013 and New Leadership Resources
World Friendship Day is coming up March 1!
This year marks the 36th anniversary of the founding of the Friendship Force. Congratulations to our global network on 36 years of promoting understanding across the barriers that separate people!
Clubs are encouraged to hold World Friendship Day celebrations on or around March 1st to honor our mission and our many years of success!
Read the World Friendship Day Fact Sheet for information on the history and purpose of this special occasion. If your club has an event planned, have a look at these World Friendship Day sample press releases to help you get media attention for your club.
Your staff at FFI are proud to represent YOU on World Friendship Day 2013!
The staff at FFI will observe World Friendship Day 2013 by participating in a Welcome to America Lunch with the Refugee Resettlement & Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA).
As international refugees arrive in Atlanta they are welcomed by RRISA, an organization that helps refugees transition smoothly into life in the US. One of the ways they welcome refugees into the US is by introducing them to members of the community - that’s where we come in! We will be meeting and greeting our new international neighbors during their orientation lunch break.
We would also like to offer some dishes that represent the cultural diversity of our organization - that’s where YOU come in! Please send us your recipes that we can bring and share at the Welcome to America Lunch. We will compile all of your recipe submissions and present them to our new international friends.
With each recipe, we will include the first name and the FF club name of the person who submitted it, so that our new friends can see how many people around the world care about peace and friendship. Then, they can go out in the community to gather ingredients and invite new friends to share a meal with them - a multicultural experience, just like the Friendship Force!
NEW! Announcing the Leadership Resources Tool Kit
Your Program Services and Communications teams at FFI are proud to present our newest website feature, the Leadership Resources Tool Kit.
Look here for videos, powerpoint presentations, handouts and other resources to help you tackle the challenges your club or exchange is facing. You can also find inspiration here for new projects to take on as a club!
The resources here have been developed by FFI staff and board members and by experienced Friendship Force volunteers with a proven track record of success.
The Leadership Resources Tool Kit currently includes information on five topics: Introducing the Friendship Force, the Exchange Matching Process, FFI Policies, Planning a Themed Exchange, and Social Media.
More resources on more subjects will be added all the time! Coming next will be a video on How to Increase Club Membership.
Check it out and let us know what you think!
Registration is open for the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 23 to 25. Visit the conference website to learn more.
February is an exciting month for FF clubs around the world! Regional conferences are being held this month in Taiwan, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Look for photos and updates on our Facebook page.
Friday, December 21, 2012
CEO Search Committee Established
During a special teleconference on December 20, the FFI Board of Directors approved the appointment of a search committee to guide the selection process for a new President to replace George Brown when he retires in June 2013. The purpose of the committee will be to work with a consulting firm to identify and screen candidates for the position and to recommend one or more finalists for final selection by the Board of Directors. The committee consists of current board members, as well as other experienced Friendship Force leaders. The members of the committee and their home Friendship Force clubs are: Sandra Larson, chair, Kern County, California; Cecile Latour, Canadian Capital Region, Ottawa, Canada; Mac Mackenzie, Florida Suncoast; Boya Marshall, Bavaria, Germany; Alan Milne, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand; Jack Mullen, Western North Carolina; Karen Overly Smith, Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Bruce Wazorko, Connecticut.
Holiday Hours: The FFI office will be closed from December 24 to 26 and on December 31 and January 1. We wish you happy holidays!
New Orleans Conference: The 2013 World Conference will take place November 22 to 25, 2013. Registration will open in January.
The staff at FFI wishes all of our volunteers and members a joyous holiday season. It’s been a great year thanks to your participation, your leadership, and most of all your dedication to connecting the world, one friendship at a time! We look forward to continuing our work together in 2013. Happy holidays!
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Outstanding Clubs and Volunteers of the Year
Congratulations! The following volunteers and clubs of the year for 2012 were recognized at the World Conference in Hiroshima.
Larry Kurtz, the Friendship Force of Greater Hamilton and Burlington, Canada
Larry Kurtz has been described as an excellent strategist, a quick thinker and a person with initiative. A former club president and experienced exchange director, Larry organized and led one of the Friendship Force’s first global exchanges. The exchange, which focused on the arts, demonstrated the reach of the Friendship Force global community and became an example to other clubs of a successful global exchange.
Ramona McGee, the Friendship Force of Sarasota, USA
A former club president, Ramona McGee has served as exchange director for several challenging exchanges, including an Open World program she coordinated in only two weeks. She currently serves as chairperson of her club’s membership committee, and already her initiatives have resulted in 16 new members in just six months. She is also mentoring a group in Ukraine who are working to start a new club.
The Friendship Force of Louisville, USA
FF Louisville is taking on big challenges and pushing themselves to grow. They energized their club by planning a themed exchange that got their members thinking outside the box. Only two weeks after hosting their global exchange, they agreed to help with an emergency hosting situation for a delegation of ambassadors from FF Rijnmond, Netherlands. This club’s enthusiasm for the Friendship Force mission makes them an inspiration to clubs around the world.
The Friendship Force of Taupo, New Zealand
FF Taupo is admired by the other clubs of its region and by friends all around the world. This club has consistently shown good attendance and participation at regional conferences, where they received several awards earlier this year. Recently, the club developed and implemented a membership growth initiative based on creative strategy and diligent follow-through, and this initiative is being used as a model by other clubs around the world.
To read more, visit our Awards page and click on “Outstanding Volunteers” and “Outstanding Clubs.”
Please note: FFI has new bank account information. For security reasons, the new account information will not be included in the policies or in any online documents. If you need to send a wire transfer, please contact your FFI program services coordinator to request the account information.
Coming soon! Registration for the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans will be opening soon. The conference will take place November 22-25, 2013. Photos and presentations from the recent 2012 World Conference in Hiroshima will be available on the FFI website in the coming week.
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.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Kathy Thomas is Chief Operating Officer of FFI
FFI Staff Promotion
We are very pleased to report that Kathy Thomas has been given a promotion with the new title of Chief Operating Officer (COO). This change in title reflects the fact that over the past two years Kathy has been taking on additional responsibilities related to the day-to-day operations of FFI. With this change, Communications Coordinator Jillian Walters and Educational Project Coordinator Allison Lindsey will now report to Kathy along with the program services coordinators. As COO, Kathy will continue to report to George Brown. Congratulations to Kathy, and thanks for providing strong leadership for the FFI staff team.
World Conference in Hiroshima
The planning is now complete and next week the results will be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where 375 people will gather for our 35th World Conference. A full report of the conference will be posted on the FFI website in November.
Don’t forget the November 1st deadline
November 1st is the deadline for submitting your club’s Planning Request Form for 2014 exchanges. Please note requests received by the November 1st deadline will be considered first.
Monday, October 08, 2012
New board members and other announcements
1. Don’t forget! Submit your Exchange Request Form by November 1. If your form is submitted late, your requests will be considered after those that were submitted by the deadline.
2. Charter renewals and club dues. In the coming weeks, you will receive an email requesting that you renew your 2013 club charter and submit your club dues by January 15, 2013.
3. Club logos have moved. You can now find your club logos on your club’s profile (find your club’s profile on our Clubs page in the Club Resources section). FFI logos and slogans are still available on the Logos page for your use.
4. Thank you! FFI extends our sincere thanks to the many US clubs who held successful Open World programs this year:
Montgomery - Cedar Rapids - Greater Milwaukee - Greater Orlando - Lincoln - National Capital Area - Southern New Jersey
Central North Carolina - Northern Colorado - Knoxville - Memphis
Missouri-St. Louis - Oklahoma - Kansas
Thank you especially to FF Greater Atlanta and FF Denver for hosting two Open World programs this year.
Open World is a program of the US Library of Congress, which brings young civic leaders from Eurasia to the US for professional development programs organized by local hosts.
Announcing New Board Members and Officers
The Friendship Force International Board of Directors held their second meeting of the year in Atlanta in September. The following new board officers were elected for 2013:
Jack Mullen, Chairman
Cecile Latour, Vice Chairperson
David Meyer, Secretary
Karen Overly Smith, Treasurer
FFI extends our sincere thanks to Cecile Bouchet, Sandra Larson, and Boya Marshall, whose terms on the board will end in December. Current Chairman Alan Milne will remain on the board as an ex officio member.
The following new members were elected to the FFI Board of Directors for 2013:
Jane Rectenwald, Montana, USA: Jane has extensive managerial and business experience, as well as work within the nonprofit sector. She also established her own candy business. Jane has been active in the Friendship Force of Missoula- Western Montana since 2008.
Loes Epping van den Bosch, Zutphen, Netherlands: Loes has been a member of the Friendship Force since 1986 and has filled many leadership positions. Loes has had a very active career in marketing, working with Shell International, Unilever and Dutch Telecom.
Francois Shih (石豐榮), Hong Kong, China: Francois 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 and has worked tirelessly to expand educational and cultural ties between China and other countries.
Viv Caulfield, Emerald Lakes, Australia: Viv is a native of Queensland, Australia, and has been a leader of Friendship Force Gold Coast since year 2000. Viv pursued a successful career in the education, holding senior level positions within a number of public and private community college networks.
Read more about the new board members.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Three announcements for club leaders
2013 Policies are online: There are no changes to the current policies for next year. All fees will remain the same throughout 2013. Download the 2013 Policies.
Announcing the 2014 World Conference: Auckland, New Zealand
We are pleased to announce that the 2014 World Conference will be held in Auckland and will be jointly hosted by the 23 Friendship Force clubs of New Zealand. Clubs are encouraged to consider requesting an exchange to New Zealand for October 2014, to coincide with the World Conference being held that month.
Registration is still open for the 2012 World Conference in Hiroshima. Over 350 delegates will attend.
Plans are in progress for the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans, USA, for November 22-25, 2013.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Submit your nominations for the Friendship Force International Clubs and Volunteers of the Year
During the 2012 World Conference in Hiroshima, Japan, this fall, FFI will recognize two clubs and two volunteers for achieving excellence in 2011 and 2012 in such areas as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements.
All Friendship Force members are invited to send in nominations. When writing your nomination, we encourage you to consider any or all of the following criteria:
Excellence in Programs: During the past year, because of innovative programs, the club or individual attracted new and diverse members, retained current members, motivated members and non-members to serve as ambassadors and hosts, expanded awareness of cross-cultural issues and achieved the mission of FFI.
Excellence in Public Relations: During the past year, the club or individual has marketed the activities of FFI to current and potential participants through internal communications such as newsletters; external media such as radio, newspapers, television and the Web; and other promotional means.
Excellence in Service: During the past year, the club or individual has served communities at home and internationally through respectful humanitarian, educational, environmental or related efforts that build understanding and friendships across diverse cultures.
Outstanding Achievement: During the past year, the club or individual has shown exemplary work across a broad spectrum of activities that result in membership growth and diversity, successful exchanges, outreach to home and visiting communities, and visibility for FFI activities.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
New Board Members and Other Announcements
New members on the FFI Board of Directors
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, Friendship Force Northern Colorado, USA.
Yury Kazantsev, Friendship Force Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
Cecile Latour, Friendship Force Canadian Capital Region.
Karen Overly Smith, Friendship Force Greater Harrisburg, USA.
Read more about the new board members.
With great appreciation we say goodbye to the following who have completed their terms on the Board: Jack Cang, Tommy Dortch, Elza dos Santos, Dave Kalan and Andrew Stirling.
View the 2011 World Conference Report online!
Click here to:
Watch new Friendship Force videos • See photos of conference events • Download helpful presentations given at workshops • Read the conference highlights
Share this link with your club members: http://www.thefriendshipforce.org/index.php/conference_current
World Friendship Day: March 1, 2012
This World Friendship Day marks the 35th anniversary of the Friendship Force. Throughout March, clubs around the world will hold special events to celebrate our history, promote our mission and plan for a stong future.
The World Friendship Day theme is: Building Friendships for a New Generation. Click here to read more about World Friendship Day.
Club leaders have received two very important emails lately. Please remember to respond:
2012 Club Charter Renewal Form due by January 15, 2012
Friendship Force Online Auction - You can help!
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.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
2012 Policies, New Staff Member, 2011 Highlights
2011 First Half Summary
A total of 1,875 Friendship Force ambassadors participated in 101 exchanges during the first half of 2011. These numbers are very similar to last year, even with the cancellation of 11 exchanges due to the tragedy of the Japanese tsunami. Among the highlights:
6 global exchanges with 163 ambassadors recruited globally via FFI’s expanded email marketing system.
3 youth exchanges with a total of 148 high school students.
The “winter festival” exchange to Winnipeg and Ottawa with 34 ambassadors attracted outstanding media attention.
40 ambassadors on the Enrichment Voyage to the Panama Canal, with optional homestay in Costa Rica.
An increasing number of special themed exchanges, including Gardeners to Cornwall, the second Eco Exchange to Costa Rica, Cycling in Niagara, and the Sustainable Energy Festival in Northern Colorado.
Our new Canadian club, FF Stratford and St Marys, which was begun last year with the help of board member Andrew Stirling, participated in its first outbound exchange.
Our newest club in Germany, FF Schwerin, hosted their first inbound exchange.
Our newly re-opened club in Irkutsk, Russia, hosted their first inbound exchange.
New Policies for 2012
The 2012 club and exchange policies are now available*. Most of the policies remain the same (including club and exchange fees) but look for the word NEW! to identify important changes. Please pay special attention to these two sections:
Section B-5, Health and Mobility: These expanded guidelines are designed to reduce problems associated with ambassadors (or hosts) who are not physically able to carry out the requirements of an exchange.
Section B-6, Recruiting Ambassadors from Other Communities: These new guidelines will help EDs with recruiting, screening and accepting ambassadors who apply from outside the ED’s community.
Click here to download. These policies can also be found on the Documents page of the Club Resources section of our website.
*The 2012 policies are currently available in English. Translations in Japanese, German, Portuguese and Spanish will be available in September.
Welcome to the staff, Matthew Nidek!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Announcing the 2013 World Conference and other updates
The deadline for Club and Volunteer of the Year nominations has been extended to June 15. Click here for more details.
The deadline to nominate yourself or someone else for the FFI Board of Directors is also June 15. Click here for more details.
Notice of Staff Change
2011 World Conference – Hamburg, Germany
Don’t miss this great opportunity. Read up on what to expect at the World Conference, and click here to register. Don’t delay! Some optional events are filling up fast. No refunds will be made after June 27.
2012 World Conference – Hiroshima, Japan
October 30-November 3, 2012. Plans are well underway to have an excellent global gathering of the Friendship Force family. Mr. James Morikawa, President of the Friendship Force of Hiroshima, will be in Hamburg to give the official invitation for this important event.
Announcing the 2013 World Conference:
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
November 22-25, 2013. The official host club will be the Friendship Force of Baton Rouge.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updates regarding Japan, online payments, FFI staff and more
2) 2011 World Conference – Register today!
Post-conference homestay opportunities are filling up fast – tell your members to act now to reserve their spots! Click here to register.
3) Japan Update
Our field representative coordinator for Japan, Tsuguyo Ishii, has written a letter to all the Friendship Force leaders on behalf of the Friendship Force in Japan. Click here to read it.
Most spring exchanges to Japan have been cancelled for this year, but our Japanese leaders are confident they will be able to host again in autumn 2011 or in 2012. We strongly urge our clubs around the world to continue planning their future exchanges with Japan. We will be closely tracking the recovery process in Japan, and we expect that many of the travel warnings currently in effect may be revoked by next year. We are continuing to plan the 2012 World Conference in Hiroshima.
It is premature to cancel any 2012 exchanges to Japan at this time. If a club cancels their exchange to Japan for 2012, they cannot get it back, and we cannot guarantee a good substitute. Please consult with FFI regarding any questions or concerns you may have.
4) FFI Staff Update
Program Services Coordinator Erin Zingales is now taking over the Middle East region in addition to Australia and New Zealand. We know you will all enjoy working with Erin on your Middle East exchanges. This region includes clubs in Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Turkey.
We are thrilled to announce that our colleague and friend, Conference Director Debbie Powell, is expecting her first child in August. We are sorry to say that she will not be able to join us in Hamburg for the World Conference, but we know you will all join us in wishing Debbie and Blake all the best.
5) Online Payment Options for Club Dues and Exchange Fees
You now have the option to pay all your FFI fees online by credit card. Go to http://www.thefriendshipforce.org and click on Support FFI in the blue bar. Select Legacy Fund, Exchange Payments or Club Dues.
Paying online is simple, convenient and safe.
6) “Like” the Friendship Force on Facebook!
Friendship Force International now has a Page on Facebook! By “liking” it, you’ll have access to all the latest announcements from FFI. Plus, you’ll find Friendship Force members from around the world there – you can share messages, photos and more… even promote your exchange! Just go to http://www.facebook.com/friendshipforce and click “Like.” If you’re not a Facebook user already, it’s free to join and easy to create your online profile.
To read more about what Facebook can do for the Friendship Force, or why the new Facebook Page is better than the old Facebook Group, click here.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Trailblazer Project and Other Important Announcements
1. Japan Update: All Friendship Force members continue to be saddened by the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. FFI is working with our Japanese leaders to make adjustments in exchanges as needed. Some exchanges will need to be cancelled or postponed, but we are hopeful that many will be conducted as planned.
2. FFI Board of Directors Meeting: All members were present at the FFI board meeting in Atlanta, including the four new board members: Jack Mullen (USA), Çiçek Sensan (Turkey), Beatriz “Cuqui” Gamboa de Ardila (Colombia), and Mark Rebstock (USA). Alan Milne from Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, is the new board chairman.
At the meeting the following actions were taken:
a) The fees for 2012 will be the same as 2011 – there will be no fee increase.
b) The FFI budget was approved for 2011 with little change from 2010. FFI was very pleased to have a net operating gain in 2010 after two years of losses.
c) The 2012 exchange policies, which will be issued in June, will include stronger guidelines on health and mobility.
d) The board approved the Trailblazer Project (see below).
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Regarding the situation in Japan
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.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Why you should “like” the new FFI Page on Facebook!
Great news, everyone. Friendship Force International now has its own “Page” on Facebook! This means better ways to share and learn about all the latest opportunities from FFI. It also means better ways for you to connect with us at FFI headquarters and with your friends around the world. You won’t want to miss out.
Here’s what you do: Click here to see our new Page! At the top of the page, you’ll see the title “Friendship Force International” and next to it, there will be a small button that says “Like.” Click on the button!
“Liking” our “Page” is just like joining the group – only better! “Groups” (like the Friendship Force “group” we have had for years) were one of the original features of Facebook. But as Facebook grew, “Pages” were developed as a better way for you to stay connected to the organizations that mean something to you.
The new Page is better than the old group because:
1. Pages are easier to find when you search on Facebook.
2. Posts from Friendship Force International will appear on your News Feed, just like posts from your friends (We’re all friends here, after all!) This way you can get updates from FFI without having to remember to visit the group.
3. Pages make it easier for you to share updates from FFI with all your friends – this means better visibility for the Friendship Force and better recruiting for your club and exchanges!
4. You can use the Page to do all the same things as the group – write on the wall, upload photos, and share links. But on the Page, your posts are much more likely to be seen!
You can still belong to the Friendship Force Facebook group – it’s not going anywhere. But here at FFI headquarters we’ll be using the new Friendship Force page to share the latest news. See you there!
Monday, February 21, 2011
World Friendship Day and the Friendship Force Online and Silent Auction
World Friendship Day (March 1) is almost here! In honor of this special day, we invite your club to MAKE A DIFFERENCE, big or small, this March!
Read ideas for how your club can Make a Difference this March.
See ideas in this photo presentation of FF Sacramento’s famous 2010 World Friendship Day festival.
Consider a “Diversity Dinner” like the ones FF Milwaukee puts on.
Use a press release to publicize your club’s activities. Download our samples as a Word document or PDF.
Keep in mind the opportunity to fundraise for the Legacy Fund. We appreciate your contributions that help us expand the Friendship Force.
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.
Click here to learn more.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Alan Milne heads 2011 FFI Board of Directors
The new chairman of the FFI Board of Directors is Alan Milne of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. He follows Thomas Dortch, who has completed his two years as chairman.
Milne is just the second person from outside the USA to serve as the board chairman in the 34-year history of the Friendship Force. His election, along with the record number of countries represented on the board (10), is an indication of how diverse the board has become.
Responsible for the formation of The Friendship Force of Kapiti Coast, Alan and his wife, Mary, have been on exchanges to the United States, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Australia, Japan, New Caledonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
His professional experience includes economic and community development and local government. Between 2001 and 2007 he served two terms as the mayor of the Kapiti Coast. Alan has also taken a leading role in concern for climate change and protection and was New Zealand’s official local authority representative at the 2005 UN climate conference in Montréal.
In addition to volunteer and civic leadership, he also brings extensive business experience to the Board. Alan believes that “life is about people,” and during his first two years on the Board of Directors, he has already done much to secure a bright future for the Friendship Force. Click here to read more about Alan.
Milne is joined by the following three other officers for 2011:
Sandra Larson, Vice Chairperson, of Kern County, California
Boya Marshall, Secretary, of Nurenburg, Germany
Andrew Stirling, Treasurer, of Ottawa, Canada
The FFI Board of Directors will have its first meeting of 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia, March 11-14. In addition to overseeing the regular operations of FFI, in 2011 the Board will continue to push forward with the implementation of the strategic plan that was adopted in 2008.
Congratulations, officers of 2011! We’re looking forward to an exciting year.
George T. Brown, Jr.
New Board Members and Other Announcements
The Friendship Force is off to a great start in 2011. The first exchanges of the year departed on January 11. Twenty ambassadors from Southern Connecticut were hosted by Bogotá, Colombia, and 21 ambassadors from Haliburton Highlands, Canada, were hosted by Heredia, Costa Rica – just the first of approximately 275 groups that will travel this year.
1. FFI Board of Directors
There are four new members joining the FFI Board of Directors in 2011:
Cuqui Ardila of Bogotá, Colombia: Cuqui is well known by the Friendship Force family, having been active in the Bogotá club since its founding in 1982. Read more.
Jack Mullen of Western North Carolina, USA: Jack is a retired accountant (CPA). During his career he lived and worked in various countries, including Venezuela, Spain and Chile. Read more.
Mark Rebstock of Washington, DC, USA: Mark is vice president of the National Council for International Visitors in Washington, DC. Read more.
Çiçek Sensan of Karsiyaka, Turkey: Çiçek was one of the first members of the Friendship Force of Izmir in 1994 and later worked to establish her current club in Karsiyaka. Read more.
These new members will join the ten returning members in Atlanta, GA, March 11-14, 2011 for the first of two scheduled meetings. This year’s board has members from ten different countries: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey and the USA.
2. 2012 Planning
Proposals for 2012 exchanges were sent out on January 24th. We sent out 285 proposals for regular club exchanges and proposed 15 global exchanges as well. Please respond to your club’s proposals by March 15th.
Clubs that request to change their proposals should expect a waiting period before receiving any changes: we must wait until we have received responses from most clubs in order to know what will be available.
Registration is well underway for the Friendship Force International 2011 World Conference in historic Hamburg, Germany. Visit http://www.regonline.com/2011worldconf to find out more and register today!
4. Health and Mobility
FFI will soon be sending a survey to all club presidents regarding the policy on health and mobility of ambassadors. This is part of a policy review process to determine if changes are needed in order to avoid situations where people are accepted as ambassadors who may not be able to carry out the physical requirements of the host program. All clubs are encouraged to return the survey by March 1 so the results can be considered by the Board of Directors.
5. Email Marketing Lists
6. World Friendship Day - March 1st, 2011
The theme for this year’s World Friendship Day is “Make a Difference.” For ideas on how to “make a difference” this World Friendship Day, see below.
Friday, December 17, 2010
December Communique Part 2: World Friendship Day 2011
We are excited to announce plans for celebrating World Friendship Day on March 1, 2011. This special day, recognized by the United States Senate, is a great opportunity for Friendship Force clubs everywhere to get the world’s attention with special events in the name of global friendship. It’s also a great time to reach out to your community, to the Press, to individuals and to other clubs, in the spirit of forming new connections.
Our theme for the 2011 celebration of World Friendship Day is “Make a Difference.” The Friendship Force has always believed that each and every person can make an important contribution to international goodwill. As members of the Friendship Force, we serve our global village, we serve the cause of friendship, and we serve our organization with our time and effort. We believe that through our example the cause of friendship and peace can be advanced. This World Friendship Day, we invite you to make a difference – to the world, to your community, to just a few people – because we believe we can change the world, one friendship at a time.
Below are some suggestions that you may find useful in creating your World Friendship Day activities. The opportunities are limitless. We look forward to hearing your club’s plans!
World Friendship Day 2011
Date: March 1, 2011
Theme: Make a Difference
Challenge: FFI encourages Friendship Force clubs around the world to celebrate World Friendship Day 2011 by putting the Friendship Force mission into action, participating in club activities or public events that will:
- promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people
- increase public awareness for the Friendship Force
- provide a platform for gaining new members
Your Friendship Force club can make a difference by promoting friendship and understanding in the world and in your community at home. Here are some examples:
Make a difference to a child or young person
- By reading or giving a presentation to children at the library, school, hospital or other children’s organization.
- By hosting a “home away from home” dinner for foreign exchange students.
- Volunteer at an international school or for an English language class.
Make a difference to a refugee
- Reach out to refugee organizations in your community.
- Volunteer at a refugee center or donate clothes, food or supplies.
Make a difference to a person of another faith
- Arrange for local religious leaders to give a public speech or round table discussion on religious tolerance and world peace.
- Invite members of a religious organization to discuss understanding across religions with your club members, either at a club meeting or special dinner.
Make a difference to your community
- Host a World Friendship Day dinner or party for a cultural organization in your community.
- Bring together diverse cultural organizations to put on a World Friendship Day event for the public.
- Participate in a community event such as a festival or parade by giving a performance or demonstration or carrying a banner.
- Put together a cultural display for your public library or local schools.
- Donate a floral display to a community building, such as a house of worship or government building, in honor of “our hope for a more peaceful world.”
Make a difference to your members and potential members
- Attend a cultural event or performance together, or try out a new cuisine.
- Reach out to a club you haven’t visited and agree to exchange letters and photographs, or even arrange for the two clubs to talk over Skype.
- Invite a teacher, student group or cultural organization to give your club a language lesson or cultural demonstration.
- Have a special meeting to make up a list of Friendship Resolutions – these will be your club’s goals for 2011.
- Get online! Update your website and create a Facebook page where your members can share comments and photos and invite others to join.
Make a difference to your global organization
- Offer to be a mentor club to a younger or smaller club – your field representative or program services coordinator at FFI can advise you.
- Make a donation to the Legacy Fund to support new club and program development.
- Invite other Friendship Force clubs in your area to join your World Friendship Day activities.
- Send World Friendship Day greeting cards to clubs who have hosted you.
Make a difference to your global community
- Donate supplies to a humanitarian organization.
- Raise awareness of a humanitarian cause.
- Team up on a project with other local organizations that share the Friendship Force mission.
December Communique Part 1: Send us your email list
Don’t let your members miss out! Send us your club members’ email addresses today. Here’s why:
1. We’re sending great items your members will want to receive.
a. The World of Friends catalog updates feature opportunities that are available to all Friendship Force members, including themed and Discover exchanges that may be of special interest to some of your members.
b. Periodic ED Invitations, written by exchange directors, invite your club members to join innovative global exchanges.
c. Friendship Online magazine takes the place of the print magazine that was available previously by subscription. The online magazine will be distributed free of charge, offering stories and advice from Friendship Force leaders around the world.
d. We’re sending time-sensitive information that is of interest to all members, such as the conference registration and photo contest announcements.
e. Our email campaigns in 2010 have been successful, and many clubs have already submitted their lists.
2. It’s very safe.
a. Our Policy: FFI has a long standing policy not to pass on email addresses to any other organization or to use them for other than the stated purpose of providing current membership information on Friendship Force exchanges and activities.
b. “Emma”: Our email campaigns are distributed through our email service partner, Emma Email Marketing (myemma.com). Emma is highly secure, and it’s the email marketing service of choice for 30,000 businesses and nonprofits.
c. The “Opt out” option is built in by Emma. You can see it below this email in blue. It will always be there, in the same place, for members who want to stop receiving FFI email campaigns. But please note: Clicking on “opt out” will cause you to stop receiving ALL FFI email campaigns. If you want to receive some of our email campaigns but not all of them, don’t click “opt out” – just delete the ones you don’t want.
3. Forwarding is risky and inefficient for YOU.
a. Forwarding can lead to viruses: Emails are more likely to get viruses if they pass through more “hands” – this means it’s safer to receive an email directly from our secure email marketing service than an email that was forwarded and passed around.
b. Accidental opt-outs: The email you receive is attached to your email address – if you forward it to someone else and they click on “opt out,” YOU will be opted out.
c. Using the built-in “Share This” function prevents this from happening, but it requires you to enter each email address individually.
d. Taking a load off your mind: Giving us the membership list removes a troublesome middle step. Everyone will have access to the same information, and this ensures that your club members can stay in-the-know even if the club leadership is in transition or the club leader is unavailable.
How to send your list:
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Preparing for 2011 and 2012
Congratulations! 2010 has been a great year for the Friendship Force with over 5,000 individuals traveling on 299 total exchanges — a significant increase from 2009. The 33rd World Conference in Washington, DC, was also a huge success with 500 Friendship Force members in attendance.
WHEN you are available to host or travel
HOW MANY ambassadors you can host or travel with
IF you want to host or travel on a themed exchange and WHAT theme you are interested in
WHERE you would like to travel
Sending this information does not commit you to host or travel, but your information will help us utilize our network’s full capacity.
2011 Club Charter Renewal forms are due by January 15th. Don’t forget that there are new policies for 2011. Click here to download the club charter renewal form, and read the new policies here.
Thank you for 299 fantastic exchanges in 2010. We’re looking forward to two more great years!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Three Important Announcements
The Wayne Smith Medal
The FFI Board of Directors is proud to announce the Wayne Smith Medal, a special award to be given by Friendship Force clubs to recognize those who show exceptional leadership in promoting our mission.
The Wayne Smith Medal will recognize the leaders of today who make it possible to maintain the founders vision of promoting understanding across the barriers that separate people. The award may be presented to leaders within the Friendship Force or in the broader community. Each presentation of the Wayne Smith Medal will be accompanied by a donation of US $500 to the Friendship Force Legacy Fund, given by the presenting club(s) in honor of the recipient.
With the Wayne Smith Medal, clubs have a unique opportunity to distinguish the leaders in their own communities who set an example of respect, understanding and humanitarian service. The donation given in the recipients honor both supports the founders vision and honors the achievements of the recipient in furthering the mission of the Friendship Force, FFI Board Member Alan Milne of New Zealand said.
Click here for complete information and a photo of the medal, or download a nomination form.
2011 Exchange Policies
The exchange policies for 2011 are now available on the FFI website on the Forms page under Club Resources. Please take a moment to look over them - click here to download.
Don’t forget: Travel Guard has a new address!
Toss out the old address. Please send all Travel Guard mail to:
3300 Business Park Drive
Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54482
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
FFI Staff Changes
Barbara Stonebrink, who has been serving for the past two years as program services coordinator for the UK and Germany, will be returning to her hometown of Munich, Germany, in September. We will be sorry to see her leave Atlanta, but we are very pleased that she will remain with us as a part-time staff member from Munich. She will continue to work with our German clubs and their exchanges. In addition, she will continue providing support to FFI’s Web site.
With Barbara’s departure from Atlanta, we are pleased to welcome a new full-time Atlanta-based staff member, Pallie Savoie. Pallie will take on the responsibility for working with our UK clubs. In addition, she will be responsible for the 2012 exchange planning process which had been managed previously by Meghan Skelly, who left the staff in June. Pallie attended the University of Georgia and earned bachelor’s degrees in speech communication and Spanish. As a student, she participated in study abroad programs to Granada, Spain and Oaxaca, Mexico, where she realized her love for experiencing different cultures through homestays with local families. Upon completing her education at the University of Georgia, she attended Vanderbilt University where she earned a master’s degree in community development action.
Erin Zingales has also joined FFI as a full-time staff member in Atlanta. She will be taking responsibility for our clubs and exchanges from Australia and New Zealand, replacing Emma Copeman. Erin was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia, as a teenager. She graduated from Georgia State University in Atlanta with a B.B.A. in marketing. After college, Erin accepted a three-month internship in Auckland, New Zealand. During this time, she was able to work and travel extensively throughout the country, visiting both the north and south islands of New Zealand, along with a few of Auckland’s gulf islands. Erin’s experience in New Zealand made a permanent impression on her life and has fueled her passion for travel and world cultures.
The third new member of the Atlanta staff is Jillian Walters. Jillian joins us as the new communications coordinator. She will be responsible for coordinating all of the communications from FFI, including the new online magazine we are developing for the Web site. Jillian is no stranger to FFI, having worked as an intern for Melissa Hampton several years ago, at which time she researched and wrote the cover story for the final issue of Friendship magazine. Jillian graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, with a degree in English. She studied abroad in both Guatemala and England, where she spent three months studying at Oxford University. She is excited to join FFI in a position that combines her passions for good communication and intercultural understanding.
Along with the good news of our new staff colleagues we are sorry to report that Kathy Thomas broke her leg while water skiing during the July 4th holiday and required surgery to repair the damage. She expects to be sufficiently mobile to return to work within two weeks. We wish her a smooth recovery!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Dear Club Leadership:
As we approach the middle of 2010, there is much to report from FFI and our global network. We are seeing an increase in exchange participation after the declines of last year. Already this year we have had a number of outstanding exchanges, with many more planned for the remainder of the year. Congratulations to all the leaders and members who are making these activities such a success in 2010.
We are sorry to report the passing of one of FFI’s board members, Darrell Anderson of Cape Coral, Florida (Friendship Force of Southwest Florida). Darrell had only recently joined the Board, after a number of years of active leadership in his local club. He remained committed to his service on the board right up to the time of his death. We will remember him for this dedication and commitment, and extend our sympathies to his family.
New Office for FFI
After three and a half years at our present location, FFI will be moving its office at the end of June. We’re not moving far—just three blocks south, still on Peachtree St. our new address, effective June 21, 2010 will be Suite 501, 127 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA. The phone, fax and email addresses will all remain the same. We are looking forward to a new office, which is smaller than our current office but sufficient to meet our needs for the future.
FFI Staff Changes
Along with changes in our office, FFI is also experiencing some important staff changes. Three of our current staff members are leaving us this summer. We will miss them but wish each of them all the best as they pursue new career opportunities. It will be important to fill the gaps left by their departure. We anticipate having new staff in place by the end of July.
Debbie Powell , who has been on the staff for more than ten years, has decided to return to Europe to be closer to her family in England and to pursue new career possibilities in Spain or France. Debbie also announced recently that she is engaged, and her fiancé will be traveling with her. We wish Debbie and Blake all the best. Debbie is leaving Atlanta, but with our new office capabilities we will be able to continue to have her working with us on a part-time basis. Debbie will continue to oversee the plans for the 2010 World Conference in Washington, as well as providing support to the Board of Directors. In addition, being in Europe will enable her to visit Hamburg to meet with our conference committee for the 2012 World Conference. Those working with Debbie on any of these projects will be able to contact her through her regular FFI email address. Debbie’s last day in Atlanta was May 21. We will miss her, but are glad we are not saying goodbye!
Meghan Skelly will be leaving on June 4, 2010 to take a new position in her field of marketing. She joined FFI as a college intern in 2007 and became a fulltime member of the staff in 2008. She has become an important part of the exchange planning and club support team. We’ll miss Meghan but wish her all the best in her future career.
Emma Copeman joined the staff in 2006 as the Program Services Coordinator for Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Middle East. Emma has decided to continue her studies in Turkey and will be leaving Atlanta in mid June. She will be able to continue to provide us support for our Turkish programs. Emma has been an important part of the staff and we wish her all the best as she continues her international activities in Turkey.
The FFI website (http://www.thefriendshipforce.org) is being revised to provide our members, leaders and the outside world a better way to connect with the organization. You and all members who are on our email distribution list will receive notice of the revised website in early June. Please take some time to look at it and become familiar with its features. And let us know what you think! What you like about it as well as suggestions.
Call for FFI Board Nominations
The next meeting of the FFI Board of Directors will held October 18 and 19 in Washington, DC immediately following the World Conference. At that meeting four new board members will be elected to replace the following board members whose terms expire at the end of this year: Tommy Dortch, Arifin Mochtar, Sherry Mueller and Mary Suther. The new members will begin a four year term on January 1, 2011.
Identifying talented leaders to serve on the FFI Board is one of the most important actions we can take to be sure FFI remains a strong nonprofit organization committed to its members. In keeping with established Board policy, club leaders and members are invited to provide the Board Nominating Committee with suggestions for new members. You may nominate someone you know, or yourself if you are interested in being considered. Please send the names of possible candidates to Sherry Mueller who is once again chairing the Nominating Committee. Include a brief statement (not more than one page) as to why you believe the person would make a good member of the Friendship Force Board.
While you may consult with the person you are nominating, that is not required. The Nominating Committee will review all the names that are submitted and consider them carefully. From this initial list, the Committee will select a list of finalists who will be contacted directly to request their complete resumes and to determine their interest and availability to serve on the Board.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
FFI Board Memo: English
FFI Board Memo: German
FFI Board Memo: Japanese
FFI Board Memo: Portuguese
FFI Board Memo: Spanish
World Conference, Washington DC, October 16-18, 2010: Registrations are very strong for the annual conference with 300 people registered. The spaces for post-conference hosting are filling quickly, so be sure to get your registration in as soon as possible. To learn more about the conference and to register online, please go to http://www.regonline.com/2010_world_conference.
World Conference 2011: The dates for the World Conference in Hamburg, Germany, are now set for August 26 – 30, 2011. Detailed information about the conference will be available later this year.
Monday, February 22, 2010
US Club Legal Question: FFI has been working with our legal and accounting advisors to determine if it is possible for us to issue a group application for US clubs to gain official status as tax exempt 501(c)3 organizations. At this point it looks like this will not be possible. A final decision will be made at the upcoming Board of Directors meeting and all US clubs will be notified. Those who submitted preliminary applications with payment will receive full refunds.
Club Survey: We have now received responses to the FFI finances survey from more than half of our clubs. Thank you to all club presidents who participated in this survey. This information will be very helpful in the upcoming Board Meeting in March.