About Friendship Force
Be more than a tourist. Travel for good.
Whether you’re planting a community garden in Jamaica, practicing Spanish in Colombia, or cycling with locals in Germany, every personal friendship you create when you travel plays a small part in building a more peaceful world.
Multiply that effect by 18,000 – that’s the number of people around the world already committed to peace through friendship. They are the Friendship Force.
With volunteers on the ground in 70 countries, our programs bring these diverse people together, into one another’s cultures and even homes, to share one-of-a-kind experiences not available to regular tourists.
Through these exciting personal encounters, strangers become friends – and if we can build a world of friends, we can build a world of peace.
Our members are ordinary people just like you, who travel or host in the name of global friendship.
Explore your world.
Understand its people.
Serve the cause of peace.
Become an ambassador of the Friendship Force today.
Ten Reasons to Explore the World with the Friendship Force
1. Go where you’ve never been
Take a journey into the heart of a country and its people. Friendship Force International conducts over 300 programs every year, in 377 communities in 60 countries. Friendship Force hosts are eager to welcome you into their culture, sharing sights and experiences that are not available to tourists.
2. Get off the beaten track
There’s no better way to see a new place than with a friend who knows its “best kept secrets.” You might dine in a palace in Indonesia, visit a remote village in Africa, or see a polo match in Argentina.
3. Cultural immersion
Through the unique Friendship Force program of home hospitality, international travelers are hosted in the homes of local families. In this way, you can get to know a new culture from the inside. For example, you might learn local pastimes, such as calligraphy in Japan or snowshoeing in Canada, or you could learn family recipes in your host’s kitchen. You might even be invited to a religious ceremony or a wedding.
4. Personal friendships
When you travel or host with the Friendship Force, you get to know real people by sharing real life. Often, friendships are formed that last a lifetime.
5. Bring the world to your doorstep
As a Friendship Force host, you can explore the world without leaving home by extending the hand of friendship to international guests. It’s a rewarding experience to give your guests an up-close, insider’s view of life in your country, either through overnight home hospitality or daytime cultural activities.
6. Represent your country
When you travel or host with the Friendship Force, you have the opportunity to share knowledge of your country and culture with new friends from around the world. Through friendly conversation and everyday experiences, you become part of changing the way others see your culture and the world.
7. Make a Difference
There are many opportunities to make a difference in communities around the world. For example, you can help your new friends practice your language, bring supplies to a needy school, or host foreign teachers attending a professional development program in your city.
8. Pursue your passions around the world
Themed programs allow participants to come together to explore a common interest in a unique region of the world. You could spend a week exploring the gardens of England, studying biodiversity in Costa Rica, touring vineyards in New Zealand, or cycling the Niagara Falls region, all with the company of international friends who share your enthusiasm.
9. Lifelong learning
The Friendship Force promotes lifelong learning through a variety of travel and hosting programs. For example, programs especially for teachers and students promote education across borders. Language learning programs provide the opportunity to spend a week in a foreign country with a host family, in full language immersion.
10. Promote Global Goodwill
Friendship Force participants greet the world with an open mind and respect for other cultures. In this way, each person makes an individual contribution toward global goodwill.
Find out how you can Get Involved with the Friendship Force.
A Brief History of the Friendship Force
The Friendship Force was founded by Wayne Smith and introduced on March 1, 1977, by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of state governors. At that time, President Carter asked the governors to return to their states and identify a volunteer leader who would serve as State Director for the Friendship Force in their state. Rosalyn Carter served as Honorary Chairperson until 2002.
FF originally involved groups ranging from 150 to 400 private citizens, known as friendship ambassadors, traveling via chartered aircraft to the partner city where a group of the same size boarded to return to the original city, hence the terminology “Exchange,” the word we use still to refer to our travel programs. The visiting ambassadors were hosted in the homes of volunteer host families for a week, sharing everyday experiences and getting to know each other on a personal basis. The first FF experience involved 762 Ambassadors in a simultaneous exchange between Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
During its first five years, a few large two-way exchanges were conducted each year. In 1982, Friendship Force travel arrangements changed from charters to one-way “exchanges” on regularly scheduled airlines, allowing greater flexibility and a reduction of group size—first to 40-80 and later to 20-25. The change in format permitted a great expansion of the program worldwide. Instead of a few large exchanges each year, there are now 250-300 smaller exchanges.
While the size and number of exchanges has changed dramatically since 1977, the basic Friendship Force formula is the same, with visiting ambassadors spending a week in the home of a host family. While each exchange is now in just one direction, the participating ambassadors and hosts develop a shared understanding of each other’s culture so that a true cultural exchange takes place. In many cases, the friendships established during an exchange continue for many years, with follow-up visits through later Friendship Force exchanges or through private visits.
Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa, President of The Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, played an important role in the organization’s history. After being introduced to the Friendship Force, Mr. Sasakawa became convinced of the worthy goals of the program. Thanks to Mr. Sasakawa’s financial gifts in the mid 1980s, The Friendship Force was able to grow into a global network of independent chapters, which are called Friendship Force clubs. The clubs are organized and led by volunteers in more than 350 communities on six continents.
In 1985, the A.R.M.S. (American Russian Mutual Survival) program was implemented under the auspices of The Friendship Force. The endeavor encouraged the use of arms that embrace rather than arms that destroy. In May of that year a group of 10 Soviet citizens traveled to the U.S. to extend arms of friendship in Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. This was followed by a series of exchanges between the USA and the USSR, with thousands of Americans and Soviets participating. The success of the ARMS program demonstrated that the Friendship Force can be a powerful force for good in the world.
As a result of its initiatives between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Friendship Force was nominated in 1992 for The Nobel Peace Prize.
In addition to its annual series of exchanges between established Friendship Force clubs, Friendship Force International (FFI) conducts a variety of specialized programs. These include the “discover” series designed to introduce Friendship Force members to new countries and cultures, humanitarian and educational exchanges, and Friendship Festivals that include participants from many countries.
Since its founding in 1977, The Friendship Force has brought together millions of people. Today we are active in 70 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of home hosting, or exchanges.
Friendship Force International is a nonprofit organization supported by membership, exchange fees, donations, and foundation grants.
Building peace through friendship since 1977.
To promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people
Mutual Respect • Cultural Diversity • Cultural Exploration • Service
Each individual will make a contribution to global goodwill.
The Friendship Force worldwide network of clubs and individuals will overcome differences among people and nations.
By connecting the world, one friend at a time, we will create a world of friends that becomes a world of peace.
Changing the Way You See the World
Explore • Understand • Serve
Explore: We explore new countries and regions. We explore new cultures and new ways to connect across the barriers that separate us.
Understand: By sharing a home, meals, conversation and everyday experiences, people become friends, seeing beyond governments and borders into the heart of a country and its people. By combining home hospitality with cultural exploration, we reach a new level of understanding.
Serve: Exploration leads to understanding. Understanding leads to an acceptance of our common humanity and the desire to serve our global village—with words and actions.
400 chartered clubs and programs in 70 countries on 6
continents with more than 18,000 members worldwide.
Friendship Force is a volunteer-driven organization. More than 1,500 volunteer leaders work more than 30,000 hours each year to promote the Friendship Force mission.
225,000 ambassadors and 750,000 hosts have
participated in Friendship Force programs since 1977.
The headquarters office of FFI (Friendship Force International) is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The work
of the central office staff is supplemented by additional part time staff in Atlanta and in other locations.
The staff members are listed below with brief biographies as well as their main job
responsibility and how to contact them.
The governing Board of Directors of Friendship Force International (FFI) consists of volunteers who
contribute their time and expertise to overseeing the global operations of the organization. Board members
serve four year terms. The current members are from nine countries. Most are experienced Friendship
Force leaders, but several come from outside of FFI, adding a valuable external perspective.
Chair - Friendship Force of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Bob, fondly known as Mardi Gras Bob, comes to the board from our Baton Rouge club. Since joining FFI in 2004 he has served as club president, vice president and secretary , incoming and outgoing ED as well as the Field Representative for the SW region. In 2013 he was the chairman for FF ’ S largest and most successful International Conference. Bob spent most of his career working with the LA Department of Corrections as a Planning Officer and Administrator with Juvenile Probation and Parole. Bob was recently elected as the Boards Vice Chair.
Jyotsna (Jo) Custead
Vice Chair - Friendship Force of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Jyotsna (Jo) Custead is a member of the Friendship Force of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Jo is a passionate and committed civic leader, enjoying a new phase of life following retirement supporting and leading organizations that are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally. She has extensive board experience, having been Chair of United Way Saskatoon and Area, YWCA, Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium and various other non profit organizations. Jo has traveled widely throughout most regions of the world.
Loes Epping van den Bosch
Secretary - Friendship Force of Netherlands East
Loes Epping van den Bosch has been a member of the Friendship Force since 1986, when she joined the Friendship Force of Arnhem, and since 2002 has been a member of the Friendship Force of (Zutphen) Netherlands East. She has filled many leadership positions and is currently helping organize a cycling exchange to the Netherlands for 2013. She also serves as a field representative working with the clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Loes has had a very active career in marketing, working with Shell International, Unilever and Dutch Telecom. She and her husband Wil travel widely throughout Europe as well as other regions of the world.
Treasurer - Friendship Force of Chicago, Illinois, USA
Ed Ekis has been an active member of Friendship Force Chicago since 2006, is a retired executive of both Nalco Chemical Company and Silliker Merieux of France, and now owns a small consulting company and e-commerce business. He has lived in, worked in, or traveled within 42 countries and all 50 U.S. states, and believes strongly in the purpose and greater potential of Friendship Force International to influence global peace and cooperation among nations. He has been married to his bride Nancy for 44 years, has three children, a son and daughter in law, and five wonderful grandchildren.
Vivian (Viv) Caulfield
Friendship Force of Gold Coast, Australia
Viv Caulfield is a native of Queensland, Australia, and has been a member of Friendship Force Gold Coast since year 2000. He has been a member of the club’s board since joining and has served in numerous leadership positions, including twice as club president. Viv pursued a successful career in the field of education, having held senior level positions within a number of public and private community college networks. During his career he traveled extensively, including on numerous occasions as a member of Australian international education delegations and exhibitions to the USA, Europe and Asia.
Friendship Force of Solothurn, Switzerland
A former university professor called a `visionary and agent of change in the most positive way’.
Friendship Force of Western Michigan, USA
Lyn Hargreave has been a member of FF of Western Michigan since 2005. She has served as President and Vice President of her club and has been the ED for numerous inbound and outbound exchangers. She is currently a Field Representative for the Great Lakes Region serving since 2011. She is a former TWA flight attendant and a registered nurse who at the time of her retirement was a Director of Ambulatory Care for Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Borgess Medical Center where she managed several physician office practices. She has organized excursions for field courses to Hawaii for Western Michigan University’s Environmental Studies program which her husband Dave taught. For eleven years she and her family traveled to the Yucatan of Mexico working in Mayan villages while staying with the Mayan families in their modest stick and dirt floor homes through the Intercambio Cultural Maya organization. She has also been involved in leadership positions with other organizations such as P.E.O. In addition to traveling, in her free time she enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy and of course her family and granddaughters.
Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dave Kalan joined The Friendship Force in 1990 and since then has held many leadership roles, most recently as Field Rep for the Midwest U.S. Dave has been a club president (two different terms), club vice-president, club treasurer, regional conference chairperson and has led 10 exchanges as Exchange Director.
Dave was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in and that is where he currently makes his home. He has biomedical engineering degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University.
Dave spent his entire 21 year professional career at S.C. Johnson Wax, a multinational consumer products company, and retired in 2000. As Global Business Applications Manager for Safety/Health/Environment, his group supported offices around the world, in particular the USA, London, Amsterdam and Sydney. Dave’s daily interaction and travel to these locations gave him an awareness of the importance of understanding culture in business interactions. While working, Dave led an employee volunteer group which organized short-term volunteer projects to get employees and their family’s active in the community.
In addition to traveling, Dave enjoys attending dance, theater and musical performances.
Friendship Force of Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
Simone is a former lawyer and Portuguese language teacher for teenagers and young adults. Currently, she is a partner and Personnel Management Director of the company TESE Prime – Language Assessment and Educational Services. In her spare time, Simone works on the implementation and maintenance of a year-round educational campaign called “Donate Knowledge”, whose goal is to collect books and redistribute them to schools in poor communities. She also works to advise, inform and support young people who want to start a post-graduation course in public universities.She also serves as the current President of Friendship Force – Ribeirao Preto Club.
Friendship Force of Sarasota, Florida, USA
Ramona McGee has been a member Friendship Force of Sarasota since 1991. She is a retired accountant, having spent the last 15 years of her career as a Trust Administrator in Banking. Her love of International friendships were inspired by nine years living abroad due to her husband’s employment, residing in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. Ramona has served as president, vice- president and treasurer for the FF of Sarasota, as well as inbound and outbound exchange director various times and field representative for the Florida Clubs.
Friendship Force of Singapore
Ivan Ng, a Singaporean, founded the Friendship Force of Nanyang, Singapore in 2003 and has been the club President since then.
The club started off as an organization targeting University students and young working adults, and gone on multiple exchanges within Asia and Europe. The club has also hosted several exchanges from US and day hosted clubs on short stop-overs, winning them the Excellence in Program award in 2005.
In his professional career, Ivan has been in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry for 12 years, covering almost every markets in Asia Pacific, and held multiple commercial leadership positions in Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. He is currently a Regional Director in Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific.
In his spare time, he enjoys sea sports, travelling and interactions with various international communities based in Singapore, to have fellowship and deepen his understandings on the beauty of cultural diversity.
In addition, his passion in Digital space and Tech Startups, enables him to interact and gather insights of the needs of younger consumers across the region.
Friendship Force of Nara, Japan
Hiro was born in Kyoto, Japan and spent his adolescence in his native town.
Hiro spent his entire 37 years career at a multinational electric and electronic company in Japan. He spent most of his career in foreign countries for the top management of various sales companies. 7 years in Belgium, 9 years in France and 6 years in USA, total 22 years. He retired in 2000.
In 2001, he founded Friendship Force of Nara and served as the president for 15 years until the end of 2015. He served as Filed Representative for 5 years from 2008 to 2012.
Friendship Force of Nairobi, Kenya
My name is Fred Opondo am an architect by profession. I have worked for the City council of Nairobi and am an immediate former president of Friendship Force of Nairobi. Now a member of executive committee of our chapter (FF Nairobi) helped organize a successful African regional conference in 2011 in Nairobi which was also known as leadership conference and participated in the organization of outbound and inbound exchanges. Fred has lived in 3 countries which makes him well suited to FFI’s growth plans in Africa.
Friendship Force of Guadeloupe
Founder and President of FF Guadeloupe, Thérèse has an advanced degree in education in the French system. She is a retired elementary school principal. She served on the Board of Directors for 25 years with the French League of Education, a non-profit educational association of France. From 1990-95, she was the regional delegate of the International Center for Research, Exchange and Cooperation between the Caribbean and the Americas.
She really wants to help FFI’s growth plans in countries of “la francophonie”.
Promouvoir une vision planétaire du monde au-delà des barrières qui séparent
Le respect mutuel • La diversité culturelle • L’exploration culturelle • Le service
Chaque personne aura contribué à la bienveillance mondiale.
Le réseau international des clubs et personnes de Friendship Force International
contribuera à surmonter les préjugés dus aux différences entre peuples et nations
En rapprochant les habitants du l’univers, un ami à la fois, nous créerons un monde
d’amis qui formera un monde de paix.
Changer Votre Façon de Percevoir le Monde
Explorer – Comprendre - Servir
Explorer: Nous découvrons de nouveaux pays et de nouvelles régions. Nous
explorons de nouvelles cultures et de nouvelles façons de nous rejoindre au-delà des
barrières qui nous séparent.
Comprendre: Par l’accueil à domicile, en partageant des repas, des conversations et
la routine quotidienne, les gens deviennent amis, voyant au-delà des gouvernements
et frontières, jusqu’au coeur d’un pays et de son peuple. En combinant l’hospitalité
chez soi et l’exploration d’une culture, nous atteignons un nouveau niveau de
Servir: l’exploration mène à la compréhension. La compréhension mène à
l’acceptation de notre humanité commune, ainsi qu’à la soif de servir notre village
global – par des mots et des actions.
Förderung der Völkerverständigung jenseits aller trennenden Hindernisse Werte Gegenseitiger Respekt • Kulturelle Verschiedenheit • Kulturelles Entdecken
Jedes Mitglied trägt dazu bei, die Welt zum Positiven zu verändern
Überwindung der Konflikte zwischen Menschen und Nationen durch das weltweite
Netzwerk von Friendship Force Erschaffung einer Welt des Friedens durch weltumspannende Freundschaften
Die Welt mit anderen Augen sehen
Enddecken • Verstehen • Mitwirken
Entdecken: Wir entdecken neue Länder und Regionen. Wir entdecken neue Kulturen
und neue Gemeinsamkeiten jenseits aller trennenden Grenzen.
Verstehen: Fremde werden zu Freunden, indem wir ein Zuhause, eine Mahlzeit,
eine Unterhaltung und alltägliche Erlebnisse teilen. Jenseits der Grenzen von
Regierungen und Staaten gewinnen wir einen neuen Einblick in das Herz eines
Landes und seiner Menschen
Mitwirken: Aus dem „Entdecken“ entsteht Verständnis. Aus dem „Verstehen“ der
Gemeinsamkeiten entwickelt sich das Bedürfnis, in der globalen Gemeinschaft
mitzuwirken und mitzuhelfen - durch Worte und Taten.
相互理解 • 文化の多様性 • 文化の探検 • 相互援助
発見 • 文化理解 • 相互援助
Promover o entendimento universal, rompendo as barreiras que separam as pessoas
Respeito Mútuo • Diversidade Cultural • Exploração Cultural • Solidariedade
Cada indivíduo dará sua contribuição à boa vontade universal.
A rede global de clubes e indivíduos da Friendship Force ultrapassará as diferenças
entre pessoas e nações.
Por conectar-se ao mundo, um amigo de cada vez, cria-se um mundo de amigos,
conduzindo a um mundo de paz.
Mudando a Maneira de Você Ver o Mundo
Conheça • Entenda • Participe
Conheça: Conhecemos novos países e regiões, novas culturas e novas maneiras de
nos conectar, ultrapassando as barreiras que nos separam.
Entenda:Ao compartilhar sua casa, refeições, conversas e experiências do dia-adia,
as pessoas se tornam amigas, vendo, além de governo e fronteiras, o coração de
um país e de seu povo. Ao combinar a hospitalidade de uma casa com a exploração
cultural, alcançamos um novo nível de entendimento.
Participe: Conhecimento conduz a entendimento. Entendimento conduz a uma
aceitação de nossa humanidade comum e ao desejo de participar do mundo global,
com palavras e ações
Promover el entendimiento global rompiendo las barreras que separan a la gente
Respeto mutuo • Diversidad cultural • Exploración cultural • Solidaridad
• Cada individuo contribuye con la buena voluntad global.
• La red mundial de clubes e individuos de la Fuerza de la Amistad sobrepasa las diferencias entre las personas y las naciones.
• Por conectarse al mundo, un amigo a la vez, creamos un mundo de amigos y logramos un mundo de paz.
Cambiando la Manera de Ver el Mundo
Conozca • Entienda • Únase
Conozca: Conocemos nuevos países y regiones, nuevas culturas y maneras de
conectarse rompiendo las barreras que nos separan.
Entienda: Al compartir la casa, comidas, conversaciones y experiencias de la vida
diaria, la gente se hace amiga, yendo más allá de gobiernos y fronteras, y viendo
adentro del corazón de un país y de su gente. Al combinar la hospitalidad en una casa
con la exploración cultural, se logra un nuevo nivel de entendimiento.
Únase: El conocimiento lleva al entendimiento, y éste conduce a la aceptación de la
humanidad y al deseo de unirse a la aldea global con palabras y acciones
Содействовать всеобщему пониманию невзирая на барьеры, разделяющие
Взаимоуважение • Культурное многообразие • Исследование
других культур • Помощь
• Каждый человек внесёт вклад во всемирную добрую волю.
• Распространение по всему миру сети клубов Силы дружбы и дружба между отдельными людьми преодолеют различия между народами и нациями.
• Приобретая всё новых друзей, сближая людей из разных уголков света, мы создадим мир друзей, который станет миром без насилия.
Изменение твоего видения мира
Познаём • Понимаем • Помогаем
Познаём: Мы познаём новые страны и регионы. Мы познаём новые
культуры и новые пути преодоления барьеров, которые нас разделяют.
Понимаем: Разделяя дом и еду, беседуя и делясь житейским опытом, люди
становятся друзьями и начинают видеть сердце страны и населяющих
её людей – вне границ и правительств. Совмещая гостеприимство и
культурное исследование, мы достигаем нового уровня понимания.
Помогаем: Исследование ведёт к пониманию. Понимание ведёт к
принятию нашей общей человечности