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Friday, March 25, 2016

Update from Recent Board Meeting

Dear Friendship Force Club Leaders,

Earlier this month, the Friendship Force International Board of Directors met for the 76th time in our history to discuss, among regular business, the current state of the Friendship Force mission worldwide.  There is no doubt that our mission of “promoting global understanding across the barriers that separate people” continues to be an important calling for all of our clubs and members, as evidenced by the hundreds of delegations and thousands of ambassadors forging new friendships through the Friendship Force each year.  We speak for the entirety of the Board when we say we are honored to be working hand-in-hand with you as we continue to seek realization of the full potential of our mission.  Your presence was felt in every conversation and decision made throughout the weekend.

Perhaps more important than any specific decisions made throughout the weekend was the depth of the discussion around each of the topics presented.  Building on the messages about FFI’s financial position shared during the Vancouver Conference in 2015 is a heightened awareness that the decisions we make now may profoundly influence our organization’s success in the future.  To that end, there was an intentional effort to keep the long-term goals of the organization in mind while we wrestled with acute issues mostly related to our currently stable but tenuous financial position.

Bringing clarity to the Board’s role in organizational governance, as well as accountability to how we move forward, was a significant focus of the weekend’s activities:

- The Strategy Committee has been reconstructed and is now called the Strategy and Innovation Steering Committee. In addition to its original purpose of overseeing the progress of the strategic plan and its eight initiatives, this committee will also help organize and assess the impact of several pilot initiatives launched in the past 24 months.  This committee is also charged with vetting new initiatives and ensuring that the mission of Friendship Force isn’t compromised, but enhanced and strengthened by these endeavors.

- The Board approved the creation of a Policy Review Committee whose purpose is to work with staff in resolving several current issues related to the wording, contradictions, and general confusion around some parts of the club and exchange policies.  With the thanks to many of you for forwarding your concerns related to club policies to Jeremi, the Committee has already begun in earnest to present clarifications to the Board at their next meeting.
- Recognizing the need for a concerted effort to devise a fund-raising philosophy, a fund development plan, and to help align the existing Legacy Fund with the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan, the Board unanimously approved the creation of a Fund Development Committee.

In addition to a comprehensive update on the database and website project, the Board also spoke extensively about the need to elevate worldwide awareness for the Friendship Force and about how the launch of the revised website is one such opportunity to project a refreshed presence of our organization to the world.  Presentations by FFI staff touched on ways to clean up the Friendship Force brand that will be implemented this year, as well as new communication tools currently in development to help bring the worldwide Friendship Force family a little closer together.

Over the next several months, more details and news about actions being taken by Friendship Force Board and staff will be shared.  In the meantime, and if there was one message received and reciprocated during this most recent Board meeting, we must begin to take action in 2016.

In friendship,
Jeremi Snook, CEO and Bob Duncan, Board Chair


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leadership Communique

Highlighted in this communique are a few “housekeeping” items that should be of interest to you as a Friendship Force leader. One of my goals for 2016 is to explore ways your support team here in Atlanta can more effectively and efficiently communicate with you.  I am most interested in hearing what topics are important to you and your club. Toward that end, I invite you to send me a quick note on topics you’d like to hear more about by filling out the form accessible by clicking here. Or, as always, you are welcome to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jeremi Snook, President/CEO

Club Charter Renewals Due Today, January 15
If you haven’t already, please be sure to submit your annual club charter renewal form and club affiliation dues by today, January 15. Please direct your questions to Matthew Nidek at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

2016 Leadership Information Form

2016 Club Charter Renewal

2017 Matches- Coming Soon
The results of the 2017 Matching process will be sent out soon. Be on the lookout for an email from the Planning Department! 

World Conference Registration to Begin Next Week
An email will be sent out to the general membership next week announcing the official opening of registration for the 2016 Friendship Force International World Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Click here to learn more about the 2016 World Conference.

We’ve Moved!
Friendship Force has relocated. Our new address is:

260 Peachtree St NW, Suite 402
Atlanta, GA 30303

We can still be reached at the same phone number 404.522.9490.


Monday, November 02, 2015

2016 Club and Exchange Policy Changes

Spanish  |  English  |  French  |  Portuguese  |  German  |  Russian  |  Japanese

Changes effective January, 1, 2016

Hello Friendship Force Friends across the World:

Over the last year, your Board of Directors and CEO have taken several steps to communicate with you in order to seek your views on a wide range of issues aiming to revitalize Friendship Force and ensure its sustainability. Our commitment to our values and our mission has not changed, and it won’t. At the same time, our sustainability means we must embrace new members.

This is your organization. We want you informed, we want you engaged, and we want you to own FFI with all its promise and challenges.

With your input in mind, we have revised and introduced a number of policies to bring more fairness, more clarity, more inclusiveness and more vitality to FFI. For your part, you have rewarded us with constructive feedback and encouraging support for the `Two-Goal I’m In Campaign’ launched at the Vancouver world conference and designed to raise funds for a very much needed new data base/website and you have agreed to help FFI by creating growth through global exchanges.

The attached document summarizes the policy changes that will come into effect on January 1, 2016. A fully revised and more detailed set of `2016 Club and Exchange Policies’ is also attached for your reference.

As Chair of the Board, please join us in bidding farewell to our CEO, Joy DiBenedetto, who has kindly agreed to extend an extra week pending the arrival of her successor, Jeremi Snook, on November 9. On your behalf, warmest thanks to Joy for the enormous efforts she has made to bring renewal to FFI.  She likes to say she is a disciple for life. May she find friendship and peace wherever she goes.

In closing, allow us to remind you that the months ahead will be exceptionally challenging for our office in Atlanta. There is the upcoming evaluation of the proposals for the new data base/website and subsequent installation of the new system in early 2016; on-going efforts to bring our financial challenges under control; and the relocation of our office in December will all impose huge demands on the FFI staff and operations over and above the executive transition. The best support all of us can offer is to focus our energy on delivering the best possible exchange program and do all we can to support the `Two-Goal I’m In Campaign’. At the end of all this, we will be stronger and we will have regained momentum.

In Friendship,
Cecile Latour & Joy DiBenedetto

Click here to view the complete 2016 Club and Exchange Policies


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

World Friendship Day is March 1!

10 Ways to Connect with Your Community on World Friendship Day


March 1 is World Friendship Day, the anniversary of the Friendship Force’s founding. On this day in 1977, US President Jimmy Carter announced our organization to all the state governors at a White House dinner. We encourage all of our clubs around the world to celebrate this day and connect with your community to promote friendship during the month of March.

Celebrate World Friendship Day however you’d like! It can be on March 1 or any day in March that works for your club. You can choose an activity from the list below, or come up with your own exciting way to share this day with your community.


1. Connect with a local lifelong learning organization in your community; ask to give a presentation to their group.

Look to see if your community has adult learning organizations such as OLLI, foreign language learning clubs, or organizations that focus on history. A lot of groups are looking for presenters at their meetings, so just ask around! You can talk about how to join a club, the meaning of World Friendship Day, or even about an exchange that may be of particular interest to that group. You may even find people interested in hosting!

2. Reach out to your local high school or college’s foreign language department.

Foreign language students, along with their families and teachers, are a great asset to Friendship Force! Reach out to schools and see if anyone would be interested in participating in some aspect of your next exchange. Some students are interested in traveling to other countries to get firsthand experience interacting with native speakers. Foreign language teachers are usually excited about the Friendship Force mission, too - this can be a great group to invite into your club.


3. Host a Meet Up group on MeetUp.com.

Several clubs have found success using Meetup.com to connect with people in their community who are interested in learning more about Friendship Force. Once you schedule an event, make sure you have multiple of your club’s members present to share their experiences and to help facilitate.

4. Ask to be a presenter at a local Sister Cities (or other similar organization) meeting in your community.

Reach out to organizations with like-minded goals. This is one of the best ways to make connections and get the Friendship Force name out there. As we mentioned, groups are always looking for speakers for different events, so don’t hesitate to ask!


5. Put Friendship Into Action - volunteer on a project together in your local community.

Find a volunteer project and help raise awareness of the Friendship Force. Volunteer with language classes, start an ESL practice group, or look online for other volunteer opportunities… you may find that other volunteers you meet along the way might be interested in joining a Friendship Force exchange and putting Friendship Into Action in another country!

6. Share an announcement of World Friendship Day on your Facebook page - reach friends near and far.

Post something that commemorates World Friendship Day, whether it is a picture, a simple statement, or a story from your time with Friendship Force. You can even send invitations and likes to other clubs and members around the world to stay in touch!


7. Is there a “Newcomer’s Group” in your town? If so, make sure they have information about your Friendship Force club to share with newcomers to the area.

A newer form of the welcome wagon, “Newcomer’s groups” are intended to welcome people who are new in town and assist them in getting to know people. Make sure that all the new people in your town know they are welcome to join your club!

8. Take out an ad in your local theater’s playbill.

People who attend the theater are active in the art community and are open to new cultural experiences. Putting an ad in the playbill may generate interest and lead to increased membership!


9. Put up flyers around your community with simple, positive messages. Include ‘Happy World Friendship Day!’ and your club name.

Place flyers around your community in places like libraries, coffee shops, business exchange boards, universities, and teacher lounges. Sometimes just seeing a positive message from a stranger is enough to brighten a person’s day! (Consider putting your club’s contact information, you could meet new people and maybe even new members this way!)
Or you can download this sample flyer, cut along the black lines, and write your club contact info on the back of each strip!

10. Write an op-ed about global friendship for your community newspaper or website.

While big city newspapers and websites can be hard to get into, smaller, neighborhood-focused media outlets are often eager to receive submissions, and may even allow you to post stories yourself. (For US clubs, look for your town on Patch.com. The “+” icon in the top right corner allows you to log in and post stories.)

You could write about an exchange, or you could write about what the Friendship Force means to you. Here is a great example from Renee Kumor, who wrote about the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and what it means to her as a member of Friendship Force Western North Carolina. Be sure to include contact information for your club so that interested readers can respond!


Use one of our ideas or come up with something brilliant on your own! Share your World Friendship Day pictures and success stories on our Facebook page or write to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Strategic Plan 2015 to 2018

Thanks to you… we have a plan!

Read it in: English | Spanish | Portuguese | Japanese | French | Russian | German


Dear friends,

Over the last 18 months, your FFI staff and Board of Directors have been working hard – listening, asking questions and talking to as many of our members around the world as possible - asking you what you want out of the organization we all hold dear and share.  With your collective voices, ideas and information in mind, we have developed the new 2015-2018 Strategic Plan for Friendship Force, in order to define a new direction with bold, clear initiatives that will help to focus us all toward our goal of building a bright future for our legendary community - and for the next generation.




As always, our first and most important goal is to engage as many people as possible in our movement of friendship and in our signature programs. Each of the eight initiatives was written with this goal in mind.

Many clubs and volunteers, as well as the FFI staff, have already begun implementing new and creative strategies to include more people in our important mission. These efforts in the year 2014 form the foundation for this new strategic plan.









Your determination and your creativity have kept our organization strong and have inspired this plan. We thank you for your feedback and terrific ideas, as well as the many solutions you yourselves have offered us.

From here, we will need your help to make this plan a success.  We will be calling upon the many people who have already raised their hands and said, “We want to help.” We are grateful for your support.

We look forward to working together with you throughout the 2015-2018 period. With an esteemed legacy behind us, we are committed to paving the way for a vibrant future ahead - a future of more friendship for all.

Please let us know your questions and ideas, and let us know if you want to share this work with us.

In friendship,

Joy E. DiBenedetto
President, Friendship Force International

With the full contribution and endorsement of the Board of Directors.

Cecile Latour
Chair, FFI Board of Directors


Monday, November 10, 2014

Friendship Force International Names New Class of Board Members & Officers for 2015

Friendship Force International recently elected an exciting slate of new board members and officers at its annual business meeting, which took place in September.

The 15-member board of directors currently includes representatives from Canada, the US, Colombia, Australia, the Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, Kenya, Singapore, and Switzerland.

Joining this distinguished group of current and just departing directors will be newly elected leaders from Canada, the US and Brazil.

Replacing members coming off their board term on rotation beginning January 1, 2015 will be: Jyotsna Custead, a member of the Saskatoon Friendship Force club in Canada and former board chair of the United Way of Saskatoon; Edward Ekis, a veteran businessman, currently president of Ekis and Associates and an active member of the Friendship Force of Chicago; Simone Lanzoni, a former lawyer with her own firm, currently a partner with the language learning company TESE Prime, and president of the Friendship Force club of Ribeirao Preto in Brazil; and, Ramona McGee who is a past president, vice president and treasurer of the Friendship Force club of Sarasota, bringing years of banking and finance experience to her new board role.

The board also voted to bring back Dave Kalan of FF Greater Milwaukee to fill the remaining two years of the term of Francois Shih, who ended his term early due to business endeavors. Dave Kalan originally served on the board from 2007 to 2011.

“By nominating such a professionally skilled and talented class of FFI directors, who have long dedication to Friendship Force’s important global work, our organization will focus on building a vibrant future in which we’d like to see our efforts to cross the barriers which divide people grow and strengthen in the world,” said FFI Board Chair Jack Mullen of the United States.

New board officers for 2015 who will serve as the board’s new executive committee were also voted on in September’s meeting and are as follows: Cecile Latour of Canada, who is currently the vice-chair of the board and a member of the Canadian Capital Region club, will become chairperson; Bob Duncan, currently a board member from the Friendship Force of Baton Rouge in the US, will serve as vice-chair; Jack Mullen, currently serving as the board chairperson from the Friendship Force of Western North Carolina, will become treasurer; and Loes Epping, currently serving as the board’s secretary from the Friendship Force of the Netherlands-East club, will remain as secretary.

Nominations for the internationally prestigious FFI board appointments are called for in early spring and require a candidate to have many unique skills, most importantly an understanding of cultures and regions of the world in which Friendship Force clubs operate or where the organization is growing. 

There are many factors the board considers, including the candidate’s home region, his or her Friendship Force experience, professional skills and other international efforts, though being a Friendship Force member is not a requirement for board candidacy.

Mark Rebstock, chair of the FFI board nominations committee this year, said, “All of our candidates demonstrated professional talents and leadership that our organization can embrace as we build a future concentrated on growth. They each have a passion for our mission and great ideas to bring opportunities to Friendship Force. While our nominees were all deserving, we elected those we felt had the most needed skills.” 

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.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Setting FFI on a sustainable course

October 8, 2014

Dear Friendship Force leaders around the world,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of FFI, I hope this note finds you each doing well.

As we begin an exciting new chapter in the history of our beloved organization, and also get ready to celebrate our 37th annual World Conference event in Auckland, New Zealand, next week, we wanted to take this opportunity to write to all of you about some important issues being discussed at the executive level of FFI.

The Board of Directors recently met in Atlanta for its twice-yearly meeting, where we talked about the future of FFI and our new strategic plan due to be in place by January 2015, which is based heavily on the global surveys done this past summer.

Our conversation has lead us to a place where we would like to have your input, as stewards of FFI along with us, into the direction of where FFI is going.

Below you will find links to a letter, in seven languages, which has been written to you by the chair of the FFI Board of Directors, Jack Mullen. We hope that each of you will read the letter, share it with your members, and submit to us your feedback by November 14th, so that we can move forward with our strategic goals in January. FFI belongs to all of us, and we want to hear from you at this significant moment in our history.

We thank you for your dedicated service to making our organization as successful as it is. This is our Friendship Force together, and all of us are its future.

Most sincerely,

Joy DiBenedetto, FFI President & CEO


A Letter from FFI Board Chair Jack Mullen:

- English
- Japanese
- Portuguese
- Spanish
- French
- Russian
- German


Friday, October 03, 2014

Letter from FFI President Joy DiBenedetto

To: All Friendship Force Members
From: FFI President Joy DiBenedetto
Date: October 2, 2014
Re: Important Updates and Staff Changes

Dear friends,

I hope this letter finds every one of you across the world doing well and enjoying life at this time of year.  We are getting ready to hold the 37th Annual Friendship Force World Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, in a little over a week and we look forward to seeing many of you there. 

At the conference we will be sharing the new FFI strategic plan and the results of the recent global surveys. I thank everyone who participated in the surveys - the response was tremendous and very informative. I’ll be sharing these two reports with you online very soon.

In the meantime, I must share with you all some news.

“It is with sadness that I inform you that Kathy Thomas has resigned from FFI.  In resigning, Kathy stated, ‘It has been a great honor to serve in many capacities on the FFI staff since 1992; the past year and a half as COO. Now that the leadership transition is complete, it is time for me to move on professionally.  I wish FFI all the best as it continues its great mission in the world.’ In accepting her resignation, FFI CEO Joy DiBenedetto, stated:  ‘Kathy has been a dedicated and effective staff member for many years and her service is greatly appreciated by FFI and the many volunteers around the world with whom she has worked. We all wish her the very best as she continues her career.’”

Kathy would welcome hearing from you. Should you wish to send a personal message to her, please write to her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Below are several more brief announcements which you may find pertinent. As always, thank you for the part you play in our global endeavors.

In friendship,
Joy DiBenedetto


Travel Guard Annual Plan
An annual plan for travel insurance is available to US members once again through FFI’s partner, Travel Guard. You can find the link to purchase the annual plan and other travel insurance products on the FFI homepage beneath the Travel Guard logo.


New to the FFI staff: Maggie Smith, Communications Coordinator
Having worked with FFI as a freelancer since 2013, Maggie Smith officially joined the staff as part-time Communications Coordinator earlier this year. She worked with Jillian Walters (Communications Manager) on the recent redesign of the online catalog and will continue to put her writing and design skills to work on exchange promotions and website changes. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


2016 Exchange Matching Survey
Club presidents: Please remember to submit your 2016 Exchange Matching Request Survey by November 1 in order to be considered in the first round of matching.
The survey was sent to club presidents on September 1. Any club officer may submit the survey on behalf of the club president, but please be sure that only ONE survey is submitted for the club.


You Can Follow the Auckland World Conference activities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
If you won’t be with us in Auckland for the World Conference, you can still participate by following along on social media. Check out the official FFI platforms below, or search our hashtag #FFNZ14 to see what the delegates are posting!



Sunday, August 31, 2014

General Considerations for the Exchange Matching Process

Our ability to meet your exchange requests depends on a number of factors, such as destination preferences, availability, hosting capacity and exchange history.  Please read through this information before you complete the online Exchange Request Form.  It will help you become familiar with some of the terminology we use and the processes we follow in order to meet your requests.

FFI 2016 Planning Schedule:

September 1, 2014: The 2016 Online Exchange Request Form is sent to club presidents
November 1, 2014: Deadline for submitting the online form to Friendship Force International
Mid-January, 2015: “It’s a Match” emails will be sent to clubs
January 31, 2015: Deadline for clubs to request exchange reassignment
Mid-February 2015: The majority of 2016 exchanges will be complete

FFI Mission: When evaluating clubs’ requests and making proposals for your 2016 program, we make sure to follow the FFI mission statement. As you complete the 2016 Exchange Request Form, we ask that you also keep the mission statement of The Friendship Force in mind: To promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people.

Exchange Definition: Each Friendship Force exchange can consist of 1, 2 or 3 weeks of home hosting, each week with a different club. 

Length of Program: An exchange week consists of a 5 – 7 day hosting experience. If your club requests two or more weeks of hosting, your second and third week will likely be to countries/regions that have a high availability of hosting. 

Policy Compliance: Preference will be given to clubs that comply with FFI policies including payment of club dues and annually renewing your club charter.

Club History: We also discuss each club’s past exchanges, ease of communication and general information with their program services manager.

Return/Mutual Exchange Requests:
FFI encourages requests from clubs who would like to visit a club they have hosted, or from clubs who would like to host a club they have previously visited. Such requests will be considered if received in writing from both clubs (there is a new section allowing you to explain these requests at the end of the form).  Please note that in order to ensure a fair planning process and to ensure that a balanced pool of hosting is available for everyone, mutual requests are not guaranteed.

Outbound History:
Clubs are most likely to be assigned outbound travel programs to regions of the world where they have not traveled recently.  A club’s success with filling previous outbound programs is also taken into consideration.

Countries/regions with limited hosting:  Please note that there are countries/ regions that have minimal weeks of hosting to offer, and we receive many requests to travel to these destinations.  Please do not limit your choice of countries/regions to those with only one or two weeks of hosting availability.  For an indication of how many weeks each club has available for hosting compared to how many requests are made, please refer to the following document: Overview of 2015 Exchange Requests and Hosting Capacity.

Joining Other Outbounds:  An increasingly popular alternative to requesting your own outbound travel program is to join another club’s outbound exchange from your region.  We find this is working particularly well for clubs who have had a difficult time recruiting ambassadors for outbound travel programs.  Please also remember that members are welcome to join the wide variety of outbound travel programs we have listed on the FFI Catalog

New “It’s a Match” Process:
Instead of receiving an exchange proposal, you will now only receive “It’s a Match” emails for all of the inbound and outbound exchanges that have been assigned to your club.  While there is no longer a need to accept an exchange, your club will still have the ability to decline exchange assignments.  If either an inbound or outbound exchange is declined, then FFI Planning will work to reassign the exchange to another club.  Please note that FFI Planning relies heavily upon the preferred destinations you select on the exchange request form when making exchange assignments.  Therefore, it is very important that your club takes the time to select realistic destinations that meet the needs of your entire membership.

Ongoing Planning:
Our goal is to provide each club with at least one week of international inbound and outbound opportunities. In some cases this is not possible during the initial planning phase. In these cases, proposals will be made as additional opportunities become available.


The form has been emailed to all club presidents. If you did not receive your form, or if you have questions, please write to FFI’s Kristin Harrison at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



Friday, July 25, 2014

Global Survey 2014

Hello Friendship Force members and interested participants around the world:

Previously, we’ve said we want to hear from you. Your concerns, your ideas - as we develop the next phase of our amazing organization.

Now, we’re asking for your help by completing this global membership survey. Meant to understand your interests in what you want out of Friendship Force, the survey is designed to help us prepare for completing work on the 2015 strategic plan. 

We hope you’ll share your voice with us in order to grow smarter and stronger, together -  for now, for the future, and for the next generation. 

Beyond just finishing the survey, we ask that you please complete it in a timely manner by a deadline of August 10, 2014. This will give us time to finalize a plan we’ll present for discussion and approval to the International Board of Directors at their meeting in September. 

Then, we’ll release a report this October at World Conference in Auckland, New Zealand; as well as to the worldwide Friendship Force membership, online.

Our goal is to strengthen FFI into a vibrant organization for decades to come, and as leaders in Friendship Force yourself, we need your help. Without you, our important global work could not be done and your input matters.

I thank you all so very much for your service and commitment to our collective mission.

Please share in shaping the next phase of our legacy with us by completing this worldwide survey at:

Thank you.

With friendship,
Joy DiBenedetto, President/CEO
Friendship Force International


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guidelines for Friendship Force International Logo Useage

Hello Friendship Force Leaders:

I hope this note finds you all doing well today.

In 2008, the Friendship Force International board formally approved a new, standard, global logo for use in branding the entire organization in a uniform way, across the world. This logo replaced the clasped hands logo which was previously in use across the world.

The current Friendship Force logo is available to all clubs on the FFI website, and all clubs are welcome to use the current logo on signage, apparel, letterhead, or other branded products. (See “Where to find it” below.)

This letter is to serve as a reference of the guidelines which govern the use of the Friendship Force logo, and offer a guide for what to do if you want to alter the logo for any specific purpose.
Additionally, this communique should serve as a reminder that if you are still using the old ‘clasped hands’ logo in your clubs, we ask that this icon be phased out in all forms, in compliance with the new standard logo.

In general, any deviation from the standard Friendship Force logo not explicitly permitted in the style guidelines (found here) should be reviewed and approved by the FFI communications manager, Jillian Walters. Before making any changes to the logo, please write to Jillian, who will help you complete your project in a way that meets FFI’s standards.

These rules apply to all official uses of the Friendship Force logo and in use on social media.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask myself or Jillian Walters at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

My appreciation to you for your understanding about this matter. Thank you for helping us keep the Friendship Force image strong!

With warm regards,

Where to find it:

The style guidelines for logo usage can be read here. The international logos and taglines can be found here.

Your club’s logos can be found at the bottom of your club’s online profile. If your logos are not there, or if you have other questions, please write to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hello, Club Leaders!

President Joy DiBenedetto sends her greetings from the European Conference in the Netherlands. The rest of the FFI staff say hello from sunny Atlanta! Please take a minute to read these important announcements, and share them with your club members as necessary. Thank you!


* * 2015 Club and Exchange Policies * *

The FFI Board of Directors approved the policies for 2015 at their spring meeting. Please note these changes:

- The club affiliation fees for 2015 will be US $15 per individual and US $25 per family. These will be due with your club’s charter renewal on January 15, 2015.

- The health and mobility policies have been clarified to address cognitive issues in addition to physical issues. The policies state that applicants with unique challenges are welcome on exchanges so long as any special requirements are made known to the host ED in advance and can be met by the host club.

No other changes have been made to the policies. Ambassadors fees will stay the same.
Click here to download the 2015 policies in English. Translated versions will be sent to each region separately.


Congratulations, Debbie Powell and Pallie Savoie!
FFI is thrilled to congratulate staff members Debbie and Pallie, who are each expecting a second child this year!
Debbie and Pallie will both be taking maternity leave in the coming months, and their current roles are being reassigned to other staff. We look forward to working with them again when they are ready to return.
Congratulations, Debbie, Blake and Oliver!
Congratulations, Pallie, Andrew and Janie!

Chief Operating Officer Kathy Thomas to focus on finance and budget.
Along with Debbie and Pallie’s staffing change, Kathy Thomas, Chief Operating Officer, is shifting her attention to finance and budget, identifying new grant and development opportunities, and working on new club creation. Over the next few months, as the organization moves into its strategic planning phase for 2015 and beyond, exchange coordination and planning will temporarily be managed by Joy DiBenedetto, along with the program managers. For issues associated with exchanges, please contact your program manager or Joy.

Send in your nominations for the FFI Board of Directors.
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. To submit a nomination, please review this information, which describes the responsibilities of board membership, and then complete the nominations form no later than June 15, 2014.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Welcome to the FFI staff, Kristin Harrison!


Kristin joins our staff as the new exchange matching and programming coordinator, taking over the exchange matching process from Pallie Savoie. Pallie retains her responsibilities as program coordinator for the US, UK, and Middle East.

In 1978, Kristin joined her family on a Friendship Force exchange between Des Moines, Iowa, USA and Maracaibo, Venezuela.

“I still have fond memories of seeing my first bullfight, taking a boat tour of the oil fields and dining with dignitaries. It is a privilege for me to be able to give back to the organization that has given so much to me,” Kristin said.

We are thrilled to have her with us at FFI, and we know you all will join us in welcoming her to our organization.

Help needed for new club underway in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
One of Friendship Force’s newest clubs needs your help! Do you have friends in the Victoria area? If so, please email Barbara Ashford so she can invite them to join: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Club Charter Renewals Now Overdue:
If you have not yet submitted your club’s charter renewal form or club dues for 2014, please do so as soon as possible!
-Charter Renewal Form
-Pay Club Dues Online

Exchange Proposals:
Pallie is training Kristin on the current exchange matching process to ensure a smooth transition.
You will receive your club’s exchange proposals for 2015 in mid February.

Registration will open in early February for the 2014 World Conference: Auckland, New Zealand, October 14-16, 2014

New Presentation added to 2013 World Conference webpage : Professional Programs


Monday, December 16, 2013

December- Happy Holidays from your FFI Staff!


The new year is fast approaching! Please read these important announcements, and know we are looking forward to working with you to make 2014 the best year it can be!

1. FFI elects its most globally diverse board of directors yet

Congratulations to the four new board members who will begin their terms on January 1:

Kurt Hafaeli, FF Solothurn, Switzerland

Fred Opondo, FF Nairobi, Kenya

Robert Duncan, FF Baton Rouge, USA

Ivan Ng, FF Nanyang, Singapore

Read more.

2. Please don’t forget: Club charter renewals due January 15

If you haven’t already, please be sure to submit your annual club charter renewal form and club affiliation dues by January 15, 2014. Please direct your questions to Matthew Nidek at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

3. World Friendship Day: March 1

Join clubs around the world in celebrating our organization’s 37th anniversary this March. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Make a friend, make a difference.” As you plan your club activities for World Friendship Day, consider how those activities can lead to making new friends in your community. We know it does make a difference!

While March 1 is designated the official World Friendship Day, clubs are encouraged to plan their celebrations for any convenient date throughout the month of March.

Read the Fact Sheet for more information on World Friendship Day.

4. Photos, Videos and Presentations from the World Conference now online

An email was sent yesterday to everyone in FFI’s database announcing that materials from the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans are now available online:  http://www.friendshipforce.org/index.php/conference_2013

Please encourage your club members to browse these materials. Club leaders may be especially interested in viewing the many informative presentations.

5. FFI holiday office hours

The office will be closed Monday, December 23, through Friday, December 27, and on Wednesday, January 1. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August - Updates on World Conference, Leadership Tool Kit and More


World Conference in New Orleans: Nov. 23-25, 2013
With some spaces opening up, we’re now starting to register people from the conference waiting list. If you’re not yet registered for the conference, contact Conference Director Debbie Powell to inquire: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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!

1. Conferences

New Orleans: The 2013 FFI World Conference promises to one of our largest conferences ever and an amazing global event with 26 countries represented so far. We have been overwhelmed and delighted by the response from our members around the world, many of whom signed onto our waiting list when the conference reached its original capacity in May. Fortunately we have been able to rework some of the conference activities and, thanks to the hard work of the team at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel New Orleans, we can now accommodate a slightly larger group at our conference! Many Friendship Force members on the conference waiting list are being registered this week. If you would like to join us in New Orleans please contact Conference Director Debbie Powell at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) - particularly if your club has not yet registered a representative.

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 August 28 to 31, 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, August 2015.

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


3. Policies

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.

The program services coordinators will send translations of this new version soon. Please send your comments and suggestions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We are always eager to hear how we can serve you better.


Don’t forget! Upcoming deadlines

- Nominations for the Friendship Force International Board of Directors are due to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by August 10. Read more.

- Nominations for Clubs and Volunteers of the Year are due by August 20. Send them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Read more.

- 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.

Noriko can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Read her bio on the FFI website here.


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!

FFI is working with the hotel in New Orleans and those registering late to try to accommodate as many people as possible, so if you have not yet registered but would like to attend the conference, please email Debbie Powell at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to have your name placed on the waiting list. Debbie will contact you as soon as a conference space becomes available.

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.

Friendship Force conducts a small number of language-learning themed exchanges every year, and we look forward to growing that number through this new partnership. Read more about it on the FFI website, or contact Kathy Thomas for more information: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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:

Your club profile on the FFI website is often the first place people look for information about your club and exchanges. Please take a moment to update your club profile. Download and complete the template, and email it to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thank you!


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.

Don’t forget to let the world know your plans! Write or post photographs on the Friendship Force Facebook page or send them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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!

Important Reminders

Registration is open for the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 23 to 25. Visit the conference website to learn more.

All proposals for 2014 exchanges have been sent to club presidents. Please respond by March 31. Send your questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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.

According to Sandra Larson, the committee will be looking for a person “who can work well with all the countries and cultures represented in our remarkable organization.” She welcomes comments from Friendship Force members regarding the task of the search committee. Contact Sandra at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Important Notices:

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.

Club Charter Renewals are due: Please submit your club charter renewal and club dues for 2013 by January 15. Contact Matthew Nidek with questions: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

US Clubs - An invitation from Open World: Many US Friendship Force clubs have worked closely with the Open World program. The Russian Open World program alumni are inviting Americans to take part in a project called “Red Book through Children’s Eyes.” The project encourages nature conservation efforts by engaging schools in documenting the plants and animals found in their neighborhood. If you know of a US school that may be interested in participating in this natural science project, please write to Project Manager Olga Stytsyuk (e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); phone 7-34-672-4-99-50) marking it: “contest Red Book.”

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.

Don’t forget! Please submit your club charter renewal and club dues for 2013 by January 15, 2013. Contact Matthew Nidek if you have questions: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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

Important Notices

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.

Friendship Force clubs have been hosting Open World delegations since 1999. If your club is interested in Open World hosting opportunities for 2013, please contact Elena McCarty at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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.

Attention Club Presidents! The link to the Online Planning Request Form will be emailed to club presidents on August 31. Please read the General Considerations for the Exchange Matching Process carefully before discussing your club’s requests for 2014. If you have any questions, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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.

Please send your nominations in an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by August 1, 2012. Include the name and a brief explanation (not to exceed one page) of why that club or volunteer deserves to be recognized. For volunteers, include the person’s club affiliation. For clubs, you may nominate your own or other clubs.

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.


Please respond!

Club leaders have received two very important emails lately. Please remember to respond:

2012 Club Charter Renewal Form due by January 15, 2012

2012 Planning update email (ongoing): Write to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if your club is interested in further exchange opportunities in 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.

Important “firsts”:

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!

We are pleased to welcome Matthew (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) to the FFI staff as our new Program Coordinator for Australia and New Zealand. Born in the US, Matthew became a permanent resident of New Zealand in 2006 and earned his postgraduate certificate in public policy from Victoria University of Wellington. Learn more about Matthew here.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Announcing the 2013 World Conference and other updates

Deadlines Approaching

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
Unfortunately we must say goodbye to Australia and New Zealand Coordinator Erin Zingales, who is pursuing other career paths. We wish her well on her way! Pallie Savoie (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) is taking over her responsibilities while we search for the ideal candidate to fill this position.

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

1) Nominations

Board of Directors: In October 2011, four new board members will be elected to a four-year term on the FFI Board of Directors that will begin in January 2012. 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 reviewing the attached information and completing the attached nomination form. Submit the completed form to Nominating Committee Chair David Meyer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) no later than June 15, 2011. Click here for more information and the nomination form.

Outstanding Clubs and Volunteers of the Year: At the World Conference in Hamburg, FFI will recognize two clubs and two volunteers that have achieved excellence in 2010 and 2011 in such areas as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements. Please send your nominations to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by June 1, 2011. Include the name and a brief explanation of why that club or volunteer deserves to be recognized. (For volunteers, include the person’s club affiliation). Don’t be shy – feel free to nominate your own club. For more information on nominating clubs and volunteers, click here.

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).

3. Trailblazer Project: Clubs are invited to review the new Trailblazer Project proposal – click here to download. The purpose of the Trailblazer Project is to encourage clubs to create innovative strategies for growth that can be shared with other clubs. For more information please contact George Brown ( .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or Debbie Powell ( .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

4. 2012 Exchange Assignments:  By the March 15 deadline FFI had received responses from about 85% of the clubs regarding their 2012 assignments. This is excellent. Thank you for helping us remain on schedule. The “It’s a Match” exchange confirmations will be sent during April as planned. If your club is one of the few that hasn’t responded, please do so now so your 2012 exchange assignment will not be delayed. If you have any questions send your email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Regarding the situation in Japan

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


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. 

Tell us your plans! Write to Jillian Walters at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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!

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.

In friendship,
George T. Brown, Jr.
President, FFI

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.

3. Conference
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
Thank you to all the clubs who have sent us their email lists. We’ve received almost 1,000 email addresses so far! These people now have direct access to all the latest opportunities from the Friendship Force. Thanks to the great response we’ve gotten, we will continue to accept email lists – send yours to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). To read the previous Communiqué about why and how to send your list, click here.

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

Dear Clubs,

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!

More information will follow. If you have questions, please contact Communications Coordinator Jillian Walters at (404) 965-4359 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In friendship,
George Brown


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:
Send your list, with names and email addresses, as an Excel spreadsheet or CSV to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by January 30th.


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.


We are still adding exchanges for 2011. If your club is available to host a new inbound exchange, or if your club is still waiting to be assigned an outbound exchange, please send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with the following up-to-date information:
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.


2012 Planning Request forms are now due. Make sure your requests get full consideration by turning them in immediately. If you need assistance submitting your 2012 Planning Request Form, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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:
Travel Guard
3300 Business Park Drive
Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54482


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 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

May 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.

Sad News
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.
Website Revisions. 
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.
If you would like to submit a nomination, please review the background information on Board Membership HERE. Send your nominations by July 15, 2010 to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 2010

FFI Board of Directors: The Friendship Force International Board of Directors met in Atlanta March 6 – 8, 2010. The most important item of business was to review FFI’s financial situation and to set the fees for 2011. The full set of exchange policies for 2011 will be distributed in May. However the Board wanted to send a separate memorandum to all club leaders regarding fees for 2011 (see the links below). If you have questions on the fees you may send them to George Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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.

Last Call for Friendship Force Recognition Awards for 2009 and 2010: During the 2010 World Conference in Washington, DC in October, FFI will recognize outstanding Volunteers and Clubs that have achieved excellence in 2009 and 2010 in areas such as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements. Nominations are due to FFI by June 1, 2010. Please send your recommendation with supporting information (not to exceed one page) to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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

February 2010

Friendship Force World Conference: More than 160 people are already registered for this year’s World Conference in Washington DC. The conference, which is being held at the beautiful and conveniently located Renaissance Hotel ( http://e2ma.net/go/8022282886/2590099/91696208/21753/goto:http://cwp.marriott.com/wasrb/friendship/  ), begins at 9am on Saturday October 16 and concludes at noon on Monday October 18. It’s sure to be an incredible event with high profile speakers, enlightening workshops, a splendid gala banquet, and opportunities to enjoy time with global friends - old and new. Visit the conference homepage at http://www.regonline.com/2010_world_conference for event details and to register for the conference online. Don’t forget to check out our incentives and top ten reasons to book your stay at the conference hotel!  Please direct any inquiries or questions about the conference to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Please Note: Spaces on the optional four-day post-conference homestay are going fast, so register soon!
Friendship Force Recognition Awards for 2009 and 2010: During the 2010 World Conference in Washington, DC in October, FFI will recognize outstanding Volunteers and Clubs that have achieved excellence in 2009 and 2010 in areas such as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements. Nominations are due to FFI by June 1, 2010. Please send your recommendation with supporting information (not to exceed one page) to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 
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.
Planning Domestic Exchanges: In 2010 clubs wishing to conduct domestic exchanges may contact potential partners directly. Once a domestic exchange has been confirmed, they should notify FFI by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  If your club has any questions or needs assistance in finding a good partner for a domestic exchange, please contact us at the above listed email.
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.
Name Badges: FFI is in the process of changing our supplier for name badges.  Those who have already placed orders should receive them within the next few weeks and we thank you for your patience.  Please send all future name badge orders directly to Friendship Force International: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

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