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Featured Clubs of the Quarter: 2018 Open World Hosts

For the second quarter of 2018, Friendship Force recognizes all of the clubs that have hosted Open World Leadership Center delegations so far this year. While Open World Programs and FFI Journeys have some similarities, one significant difference is that Open World Programs are assigned late in the year for the coming year usually in December– for example, we received most of our 2018 Programs in December 2017, and some of these Programs started as early as February!

In December 2017, a number of U.S. Friendship Force clubs agreed to host Open World delegations this year. We would like to recognize those that have already hosted OW delegations in 2018: FF Memphis, FF Western North Carolina, FF Utah, FF Des Moines, FF Greater Atlanta, FF Reno-Tahoe, FF Lincoln, FF Cheyenne, and FF Denver.

We are very grateful to the all of these clubs and those who will continue to take on this rewarding challenge throughout the year. All of them prepared and executed meaningful agendas packed with professional and cultural activities.

FFI Staff Member and Manager of our Open World Program Elena McCarty said,

Our clubs are absolute heroes for accepting these programs knowing that they will have only one month (and sometimes less than that!) to put together not only hosting, but also a professional program for these delegates.

Photo courtesy of Open World Leadership Center

Open World Leadership Center is a legislative branch agency founded as an arm of the U.S. Congress, which has worked with Friendship Force since 1999. Open World delegates are emerging leaders who are provided with extensive exposure to American democratic institutions and civic life while being hosted by American families. Each delegation has a specific program theme, including topics such as local legislature, media literacy, the role of women in countering violent extremism, nature preservation, medicine judiciary systems, agriculture and more.

FF Greater Des Moines and their delegates from Kosovo

Here are just some of the highlights from Open World programs in 2018:

FF Reno-Tahoe hosted Russian delegates in February with the theme of Natural Parks and Nature Preserves. They visited environmental sites and met with Senator Dean Heller and Representative Mark Amodei.

FF Cheyenne with local legislators from Ukraine

FF Lincoln, FF Cheyenne, and FF Denver hosted local legislators from Ukraine, and all participants learned more about that country. For example, Ukrainians were met with a very warm welcome with 50 people in attendance for the FF Lincoln welcome party! The delegates met with Senator Lydia Brasch whose parents immigrated to Lincoln from Ukraine in 1950, three years before she was born. She was a very gracious host at the Nebraska Capitol and spoke to the delegates in Ukrainian. 

All delegates were impressed by the programs our clubs prepared for them. In Cheyenne, they were especially wowed by the judicial presenters who inspired them to suggest similar changes back home.

While planning their professional agendas, Friendship Force clubs do spectacular job organizing delegates’ meetings with U.S. Congressmen, Senators, and other high-ranking officials. In Denver, the group met with key staff of the City of Littleton, including Mayor Debbie Brinkman, discussing local issues, and how to govern by mayoral leadership versus with a city council or city manager.

FF Memphis, Tennessee, which hosted a program focused on Community Relations with Law Enforcement from Ukraine, arranged meetings for their delegates with Congressman Steve Cohen and his staff, held a joint meeting with the staff of Tennessee senators Alexander and Corker, and met with Molly Lazio, staff for the Congressional foreign relations committee.

FF Western North Carolina hosted a double delegation from the Rumsfeld Foundation, including delegates from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan!

FF Utah hosted judges from Estonia for the Open World Rule of Law Program. FF Utah worked with Chief Judge David Nuffer to organize a professional agenda, which also included an afternoon with the FBI, where the Estonian judges heard about the international cooperation

FF Utah with judges from Estonia

involved in apprehending an Estonian criminal who turned out to be a 20-year-old college student.

As Shelley Bain, President of FF Greater Des Moines and Host Director of their Open World Program, said after hosting the delegates from Kosovo recently:

“An opportunity like this truly brings out the best in people.  I was impressed by the delegates’ dedication to their country, my Friendship Force friends, and my welcoming community.”

Friendship Force sincerely thanks all of those who have hosted Open World delegates both in 2018 and before for their dedication to the FFI mission! If your U.S. club is interested in hosting an Open World program in the future, please contact FFI’s Open World Manager, Elena McCarty, at [email protected].