About Friendship Force
Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
In a typical Friendship Force program, a local club (chapter) prepares an itinerary of cultural activities, inviting members from clubs in other countries to come and stay with them in their homes for up to a week.
There are many ways to explore the world through the Friendship Force. For example, you may:
- Join a group making a cultural exploration of another country or of another region of your own country.
- Bring the world to your doorstep by hosting international visitors in your home.
- Join a cultural travel program formed around common interests such as gardening, hiking, wine and many others.
- Get involved with a Friendship Force club in your city, or organize one yourself.
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 60 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of home hosting, or exchanges. In 2012, there were 333 exchanges conducted with 5,443 ambassadors traveling. Thousands of families served as hosts.
Friendship Force International is supported by membership, exchange fees, donations, and foundation grants.
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.
333 exchanges were conducted in 2012 with 5,443
ambassadors traveling. Thousands more families served as hosts.
377 chartered clubs and programs in 60 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 in alphabetical order 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 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. He and his wife have been active members of the Friendship force of Western NC since 2001, holding several leadership positions. He has led various exchanges including the 2010 global exchange to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico.
Beatriz E. Gamboa de Ardila (Cuqui)
Friendship Force of Bogotá, Colombia
Cuqui is well known by the Friendship Force family, having been active in the Bogotá club since its founding in 1982. She is a dentist, working with her husband in two dental clinics. Cuqui began her international experience as an AFS exchange student. The Bogota club is well known for an excellent hosting program and is unique in that its outbound exchanges always include families with children.
Friendship Force of Northern Colorado, USA
Cinda Clark is a member of the Friendship Force of Northern Colorado, USA. She took early retirement from a 20 year career in banking, followed by 12 years as a part time bookkeeper, giving her the flexibility for international travel. Cinda is a charter member of her club, with extensive leadership experience at the local and regional level. She helped establish two clubs, is past president of the club, has led 20 exchanges and served as a US field representative in the Mountain States Region.
Friendship Force of Rostov on Don, Russia
Yury Kazantsev has been a member of the Rostov on Don Friendship Force club since 2007. He has traveled on several outbound exchanges, serving as Exchange Director on a recent exchange to FF Richmond, USA. Yury, former military officer, is a customs broker. He has traveled internationally with his family and also with his work. As a young leader he looks forward to working with the Board to expand opportunities for younger members.
Vice Chair - Friendship Force of Canadian Capital Region
Cecile Latour is a member of the Friendship Force of the Canadian Capital Region where she has been an active host, as well as inbound Exchange Director. Cecile has extensive international experience, having been in the Canadian Foreign Service for 30 years, including service as the Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam.
Secretary - Friendship Force of Northern Illinois, USA
David has been a member of The Friendship Force of Northern Illinois for ten years, during which time he participated both as ambassador and hosts several times and as Exchange Director twice. In addition he sat on the club’s board for eight years: one year Vice President, three years as Club President, two years as Past President, and two as Parliamentarian. He and his wife have also hosted international guests in their home numerous times for the International Visitors’ center of Chicago.
With degrees in theater, English, and Divinity, David retired in 2004 after nearly 30 years in theological trade book publishing. He is currently pursuing a professional writing career, and has published about eighty poems, several essays, and a play.
David’s varied skills and background, combined with a strong interest in international concerns, peace and justice, religion and politics, bring a lot to the Friendship Force International Board of Directors. He is deeply committed to the concept of citizen diplomacy and the expansion of individual perspectives through international friendships.
David and his wife Pat have been married for nearly 45 years.
Friendship Force of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand
Alan tells us that being a Kiwi is great preparation for participation in Friendship Force International! New Zealand is a multicultural country and Kiwis have daily opportunities to live the FF mission to “promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people.” Kiwis celebrate the cultural and scenic diversity of their beautiful country every single day, and being a typical Kiwi, Alan is optimistic, sensitive, understanding and resourceful. His motto? “Life is about people.”
Alan brings varied and valuable business experience to Friendship Force International. From 2001 until 2007, he was Mayor of the Kapiti Coast District Council, a position to which he was elected twice, each time with a significant majority. Alan provided this rapidly growing area with six years of strong and effective community leadership during which time he achieved many successes. He was intrinsically involved in setting local policies, and ensuring that all legal requirements and fiscal requirements were met.
Alan also has a very strong track record of expertise in management and in the financial and legal aspects of running a land and property development consultancy as well as within various community organisations including Lions (42 years) and a local community trust providing care and housing for senior citizens (20 years). Alan has 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. He has excellent listening skills and always takes seriously the greater good of the community as a whole. He considers himself a lateral thinker. His contribution to his community was recognised by the award of Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010.
Alan celebrates 47 years of marriage to Mary. They have four adult children and four grandchildren. He enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including art, photography, caravanning and gardening. They have traveled extensively.
Responsible for the formation of The Friendship Force of Kapiti Coast, he and Mary first hosted in 1987 when the club was formed. Since then they have experienced exchanges to the United States, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Australia, Japan, New Caledonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
During his term as board chair he initiated the Wayne Smith medal, played a leadership role in the review of the Strategic Plan and contributed to the development of a new CEO Review process.
Washington, D.C., USA
Mark is vice president of the National Council for International Visitors in Washington, D.C. In this position he helps coordinate a national program that provides professional experiences for emerging leaders from around the world who come to the USA at the invitation of the US State Department. He formerly served as Executive Director of the International Visitors Council of Greater Cincinnati where he became familiar with the Friendship Force. He has extensive international experience, having lived in the Netherlands, Egypt and Singapore.
Friendship Force of Karsiyaka Bay, 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. She has served as outbound and inbound ED on numerous occasions as well as holding the position of club president. She is a retired teacher, having taught high school English for 23 years. She is eager to work with FFI to continue the growth of the Friendship Force in Turkey, as well as look for ways to expand our educational programs.
Karen Overly Smith
Treasurer - Friendship Force of Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Karen Overly Smith is a long time member of the Friendship Force in Pennsylvania, USA with connection over the years to both the Harrisburg and Lancaster clubs. She works as a community development policy analyst for Pennsylvania. Karen has served as club president and as Exchange Director to Ghana and China. Most recently she was FFI field representative for the mid-Atlantic and northeastern USA. Karen has extensive international travel experience.
Friendship Force of Tokyo, Japan
Drawn to Friendship Force 30 years ago by an advertisement in a Tokyo newspaper, Toko Yomura began work immediately to help organize a simultaneous exchange between Montana and Japan involving 240 people and a chartered airplane. This awesome experience was the fuel that fired Toko’s curiosity about intercultural exchange and led to the development of The Friendship Force of Tokyo two years later. The Tokyo club is now one of the largest Friendship Force clubs in the world boasting 260 members and conducting at least 6 exchanges annually.
In 1989 Toko’s husband Masami became President & CEO of Zeon Chemicals, USA, and moved the family to Louisville in the USA where Toko taught Japanese Culture and Language at Indiana University. There she organized tasting events of Japanese cuisine and later incorporated those recipes into a cookbook, When The Family Gathers, which was published and promoted by Friendship Force. Toko also helped organize The Friendship Force of Louisville during her four-year stay in the US.
Upon her return to Japan Toko counseled foreign students at the Tokyo Insitute of Technology, helping them adjust to their new environment and handle culture shock. She became well-known as “Japanese Mom, Toko.” Toko has children of her own, a son in Tokyo and two daughters in the USA, as well as 7 beautiful grandchildren.
She has attended 17 International Friendship Force Conferences and held most of the highest leadership positions in The Friendship Force of Tokyo. In addition to extensive international travel with Friendship Force, Toko is a professional musician, playing the Koto and Shamisen, traditional Japanese instruments.
Toko’s dream is to go back to university with her husband in order to study English in the US.
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.
Loes Epping van den Bosch
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.
Jane L. Rectenwald
Friendship Force of Missoula-Western Montana, USA
Jane Rectenwald has extensive managerial and business experience, as well as work within the nonprofit sector. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she worked in Montana as Field Director for the Girl Scouts. From there she returned to Pittsburgh for managements positions with US Steel and with a large law firm. She later returned to Montana and established a candy business called “Jane’s Montana Chocolates, Beyond the Plain” until her retirement. Jane has been active in the Friendship Force of Missoula-Western Montana since 2008.
Hong Kong and Shanghai, China
Francois Shih (石豐榮) has been associated with the Friendship Force for more than 20 years, having previously served as a member of the Board of Directors and the International Advisory Council. He is the president of Sharpland Investments of Hong Kong, with additional business activity in Beijing, Shanghai, and Quangzhou. Shih has extensive experience developing business relations between China, the United States and many other countries. Along with developing business relationships with China since the 1980s, Shih has worked tirelessly to expand educational and cultural ties between China and other countries. His efforts have been recognized by Chinese leaders at the national level, as well as by former US President Jimmy Carter, among others.
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.
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