HomeNewsletterJourneysMeetings-EventsVisit UsSW Conference
Club InformationFFIPhotosPast NewslettersArticles


   Past Intl Conferences   

  Quick Look
2019 - Boulder, CO 2017 - Manchester, UK 2016 - Marrakech, Morocco
2015 - Vancouver, BC Canada 2014 - Auckland, NZ 2013  - New Orleans
2012 - Hiroshima, Japan 2011 - Hamburg, Germany 2010 - Washington, DC
2009 - Okinawa, Japan 2008 - Gold Coast Australia 2007 - Atlanta, Georgia
2006 - Dublin, Ireland 2005 - Sao Paolo, Brazil 2004 - Los Angeles, CA
2003 - Budapest, Hungary 2002 - Dallas, Texas 2001 - Bangkok, Thailand
2000 - Madison, WI 1999 - London, England Story of Paper Cranes
2019 - Boulder, CO

Conference location was Boulder, Colorado July 23 – 27, 2019.

World Conference Package included:

3 nights on-campus accommodation, with twin size bed in a room for two and community shared bathroom, July 23-26
1 dinner, July 23
3 breakfasts, July 24, 25, 26
2 lunches, July 24 and 25
2 full days of updates and training, July 24 and 25:

- a general session with campus welcome, recognition of countries, host cup ceremony, FFI updates, and keynote speaker

- 5-6 workshop sessions with at least 16 different topics to choose from

- Conference bag and gift

- Friendship Force's "Bluegrass in Boulder" Night: Our private party in downtown Boulder with barbecue buffet, bluegrass band, dancing and awards


Mayor Suzanne Jones - Welcome to Boulder
Mayor of the City of Boulder, Colorado

Jeremi Snook - Making a Bolder Impression
Friendship Force International, President and CEO

Dr. Michael D. English - The Power of Friendships in Dangerous Times
University of Colorado, Peace & Conflict Studies

Pre-Conference Party

Our new Southwest Regional Field Rep, Karen Vingiello (from Baton Rouge) hosted a happy hour at nearby Capelli’s Italian Restaurant preceding our Conference for SW delegates to get together and say hello.

Delegates from Dallas included Roger and Sandy Kaiser, Paula Rose, edward perez, Doris Rodriguez, Cathy Ignatin, Patty Niemeyer, Barbara Taylor, Isabella Iverson, Gerry Arens, and Mary Williams. In all, 44 clubs were represented, with 550 in attendance.


Teresa Wilkin - Olympia, Judy Hornsby - Cincinnati, Kumiko Hashimoto & YoshikoKoizumi - Sapporo,Japan.  Barbecue dinner (ladies from Africa)

Isabella Iverson with ambassadors from Volta Lake, Ghana

The Conference officially opened on Tuesday with a welcome from the Mayor of Boulder, Suzanne Jones.

CEO of FFI Jeremi Snook welcomed delegates. He stressed reaching out, making new friends and finding new opportunities. The number of clubs stands at 360 in 60 countries worldwide – a declining number. With attrition of older members we are still not attracting enough members in our target market.

FFI is addressing this situation by investing in growth through technology:
· revising our database making it easier to use
· publishing our website and official documents in several more languages
· making member resources more accessible on our website
· Improving communication with non-English speaking clubs around the world by providing translations, social media, registration, forms in several languages. (He called for volunteer translators.)
· advancing use of technology – use of grant and foundation money

He asked us to remember why we are here, remind people why we do what we do, and to be leaders in our communities.

Dr. Michael English was the keynote speaker. Dr. English is an author and specialist in the Peace, Conflict and Security Program at the University of Colorado. He spoke on conflict analysis and resolution. He spoke on “The Power of Friendship in Dangerous Times” and how our building relationships worldwide contributes to peace in the world. What we do matters. As we travel abroad and invite others into our homes, we reduce gaps, stereotypes and polarizations. We can use these same skills among our own families, friends and organizations, using non-violent ways to solve conflicts.

He said that by the time violence occurs, a toxic situation has been going on for a long time. We need to be aware of pre-cursors to violence – differences escalating to hostile verbal exchanges, then polarization and loss of trust, violence and war. It is harder to de-escalate from war with negotiated settlements, normalization of relations and reconciliation. Better tactics are to begin with accommodating differences, not becoming entrenched in positions to achieve goals, and being respectful of others. Look for areas of agreement and joint projects. Our role as citizen diplomats is non-threatening and enhances the rich human experience.

A variety of excellent workshops was offered at each of seven time slots, several repeating – including:
• Planning and Leading an Inspirational Journey
• Communicating Without a Common Language
• Characteristics of an Awe-Inspiring Host Program
• How to Become a “City of Peace”
• Hosting the Open World Leadership Center Program
• It’s a Match! How Journeys are Requested and Assigned
• Characteristics of an Effective FFI Ambassador
• What Can FFI Regional Support Managers and Field Reps Do for My Club?
• Attributes of a Strong Club
• Useful (and FREE) Technology – making the most of Google
• A Perennial Approach to Club Development
• Hey, You Made the News!: Media Relations for Your Club
• Friendship Force Website Walkthrough
• Recruitment for Membership and Journeys
• Planning an Inbound Global Journey
• FFI Strategic Plan: How Clubs Can Help FFI Grow
• What is The Friendship Force?
• Leadership Happens: Training and Succession Planning
• Our Inner Force of Peace
• Social Media to Build Community
• How to Pack Like a Champ
• Must-Have Apps On The Go
• Ready, Set, READ! Preparing for Your Travels
• Best Practices: Club Websites and Data Security
• Your Membership Toolkit
• Sharing a Journey Experience: Photography, Stories, Social Media & More!
• Marketing for Clubs - Websites & Social Media

These presentations are posted on the FFI website so you can see what was presented and get specific information. www.friendshipforce.org

The final party was a barbecue dinner in Boulder with a bluegrass band and dancing. Jeremi Snook gave awards to best club – Sacramento - and to outstanding members and projects. He thanked members of the FFI staff, many of whom were in attendance.

The traveling Conference Cup was passed from Manchester to Boulder, where it will reside until the next conference in 2021 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the club that will be visiting us in September of 2020.

The Fundraiser for this year was a nearly-secret auction of homestay opportunities, with homes donated by members. Money raised on high bids went to FFI. Over $1600 was raised.



2017 - Manchester UK

International Conference 2017

August 24 (6 pm) to August 28 (12 pm), 2017
Midland Hotel, Manchester UK

FFI celebrated 40 Years of Friendship Force in the United Kingdom this past August! There was a fantastic lineup of speakers, workshops and plenary sessions planned for participants.

Our opening night party took us back to 1977 when the Friendship Force began. The music, costumes, dancers, decor, food and atmosphere had members waxing nostalgic about the ‘70s. It was a great celebration of 40 years of this great organization.

Several Guided Tours were available before, during and after the conference:
- to Scandinavia, Liverpool, Scotland, and Rambling in England's Peak District.
- to London and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
- canal cruise
- Beatles day tours
- indoor skydiving
-  the Imperial War Museum
-  the National Football Museum
-  city walking tours
-  an English Manor House and gardens
-  the BBC headquarters
-  a local brewery.

Homestays were available before and after the Conference
- in Toulouse, France
- in Leicestershire, England
- and more


Keynote Speaker: Benedict Allen, TV Presenter, Explorer and Author

The speaker lineup included industry experts in the fields of volunteer travel, nonprofit management, public relations, and philanthropy:

- Sucheta Rawal is an award-winning food and travel writer, author, cooking instructor and philanthropist. As the founder and executive director of Go Eat Give, Sucheta’s personal mission is to raise awareness of global cultures through meaningful travel, good eating, and community interaction. She founded Go Eat Give as a blog in 2011, through which she wanted to educated readers about sustainable and volunteer traveling, learning about authentic cuisines, and engaging with locals. Go Eat Give is now a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit serving audiences across 120 countries. Sucheta has traveled to 67 countries (and counting) bringing back exclusive experiences, which she shares through writing, speaking engagements and cooking classes.

- Andrew Bowen, APR (Accredited in Public Relations), is the founder and principal at Clearview Communications and Public Relations Inc., a multi-disciplinary PR/Marketing firm Bowen founded in 2002. Bowen’s professional PR experience includes executive positions at two international marketing/advertising/public relations agencies, Ketchum and Fletcher Martin Ewing, where he led the Public Affairs Teams. His expertise encompasses all aspects of traditional and social media, media relations, newswriting, commentaries, speech writing, public affairs, crisis communications/crisis management and reputation management.

- Jeanine Tousignant - President of Jeanine & Company, Jeanine Tousignant's philosophy is “Give where your heart is” when it comes to working with and advising donors and organizations about philanthropy and fundraising. Jeanine has worked with individual donors, companies, and foundations for over 20 years to help them maximize their giving to match their values. She also specializes in shaping nonprofit fundraising programs to match the right givers with the mission that matters to them. With this fundraising and relationship expertise, Jeanine is helping FFI clubs maximize their fundraising techniques and provides information about legacy giving (planned giving) to FFI members.

Along with our other dynamic speakers were:
- Suzy Smith Bennitt - former FFI President and daughter of founder Wayne Smith
- Jeremi Snook - FFI CEO and President
- Benedict Allen - Explorer, BBC Presenter, and author
- Stefanie Powers - Hollywood actress and philanthropist


This Year's World Conference Workshop topics Included:
- How To Be a Brit: A Humorous Cultural Journey
- The British Invasion: Music of the 1960s
- Manchester's Art and History
- Regency Rejigged: Dance like Jane Austen
- Documenting Journeys with Videos, Blogs, and Photography
- Journey Requests and the Planning Process
- Making Friends and Making an Impact
- Practical Tools to Engage the Media
- Revitalizing Europe: From Vision to Action
- Philanthropy 101
- A Multigenerational Approach to Recruitment
- Myths and Realities of Great Leaders
- Club Best Practices

Other Plenary Highlights

- A Welcome to Manchester
- Global Reach: Meet the Delegates
- Beatles Sing-Along
- Host Cup Ceremony and Annual Awards
- Friendship Force Theatre
- Q&A with the FF International Board of Directors and President
- My FF Life: A Story in One Sentence
- Raffles and Prizes

Read more about these speakers and the World Conference website -



                                       Teresa Wilkin and Leyla Akgerman


2016 - Marrakech, Morocco

The 2016 World Conference took place in Marrakech, Morocco, September 16 - 19, 2016, at the Kenzi Farah Hotel. From the FFI report:

180 delegates were in attendance from 17 countries, supported by staff members from FFI Headquarters including including CEO Jeremi Snook, Conference Director Debbie Powell, Director of Operations Matthew Nidek, Regional Support Manager Maryam Jordan, and Director of Marketing and Communications Kaitlyn Ranney. This smaller World Conference allowed for increased collaboration and friendship-building, with many delegates sharing that they were able to make some strong connections due to the smaller size.

The World Conference officially began on Friday, with an opening performance by Gnawa of Marrakesh, a musical group performing ancient African Islamic spiritual religious songs and rhythms. After a warm welcome by Conference Director Debbie Powell and the enthusiastic roll call of countries represented by the delegates, Jeremi and FF Vancouver member (host of the 2015 World Conference) Marian Ennis presented the Host Cup to Lotfi Lamrani. In return, Lotfi gave “Peace Ambassador” medals to Marian and the staff as well.

After an introduction by Board members Kurt Haefeli and Dave Kalan, Jeremi Snook took the stage with his discussion “Reflect, Re-Tool, Reinvigorate, Repeat!” which outlined determined paths forward for FFI. A question-and-answer session followed his presentation, with many insightful queries posed by the audience and answered by Jeremi, Kurt, and Dave.

That afternoon, delegates participated in a variety of optional tours, including ziplining through desert gorges, camel rides, shopping in the souks or tours of historical Marrakesh. Friday night was “An Evening in the Medina” which began with horse-and-carriage rides from the Kenzi Farah Hotel to the Djemaa El-Fna square in central Marrakesh, where delegates took in the myriad sights, smells, sounds, and entertainment, before a stroll to the Dar Essalam restaurant for a tasty and lively dinner, complete with dancing and music. Throughout the Conference, delegates enjoyed a variety of local cultural activities and workshops, including a bellydancing class, a talk about the production of Morocco’s famed argan oil, and a demonstration of tagine cooking.

The schedule on Saturday morning opened with a new program offering of “Unconference” workshops, where delegates could choose from a variety of session topics they themselves wanted to teach to others or learn about. Some of the subjects submitted by delegates were Grandparent/Intergenerational Exchanges, Language Challenges in Exchanges; Innovation in Hosting and Themes and Service and Volunteerism/Voluntourism with FFI. Members had two opportunities to choose amongst these for informal discussion-center hours.  All of the subjects and some of the summaries from these sessions can be found here.

Other workshop topics that afternoon included Leadership Training, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Recruiting and Being a Good Ambassador (see all materials from these workshops at the “Presentation” tab on the yellow bar above). Donors to the I’m In Campaign enjoyed a special reception that afternoon graciously hosted by Dave and Pat Meyer of FF Northern Illinois, U.S.A., with Jeremi and FFI staff in attendance.

Sunday opened with a breakfast meeting of the Field Representatives in attendance, followed by the African Plenary session, which featured several fantastic speakers from around the continent. Mounia Ait Allal began the morning with an interactive lesson of Darija or Moroccan Arabic. Representatives from several African clubs also spoke about their countries, clubs and exchanges throughout the weekend, including Fredrick Bombo from FF Kampala, Uganda; Dela Quarcoo from FF Volta Lake, Ghana; Hanaa Rashad from FF Cairo, Egypt; and Cori Nel and Eileen Bintcliffe from FF Capetown, South Africa.

Also on Sunday, delegates heard an informative presentation by Maryam and Skylar Montague of Project Soar, a Morocco-based non-profit organization with the mission of empowering girls. Delegates had the opportunity to donate to Project Soar after the talk and did so generously. The African Plenary concluded with Dr. Rajae Chafil, the Director of Observation, Studies and Planning at Morocco’s Ministry of Environment, who spoke about “The Changing Role of Muslim Women in Morocco” and her work and life.

The 2016 Gala Dinner took place that evening, with wonderful cultural dress sported by many delegates, an abundance of Moroccan culinary specialties, dancing, and friendship. The Awards Presentation took place that evening as well, with Volunteer of the Year going to Lotfi Lamrani, Club of the Year going to FF Bavaria, Germany and the newly-named Charlene Terrell Lifetime Achievement Award going to Erzsebet Steger of FF Székesfehérvár (see all award recipients here). Additionally, Jeremi made an announcement about the upcoming 40th Celebration at Sea Cruise taking place in 2017, while also thanking Dave Kalan for his dedication and service and giving away several copies of Charlene Terrell’s The Other Side of the Mountain books.

The closing plenary on Monday morning was a look ahead to new projects and events in the coming year. Andrew Kelly of FF Manchester, U.K. changed many delegates’ misperceptions and stereotypes of the 2017 World Conference host city of Manchester, England with a lively and humorous introduction to his beloved city.  Debbie and Jeremi then drew tickets to select the winners of free conference tickets to Manchester, deciding to choose four winners instead of the original two, sending four lucky delegates to the exciting 40th anniversary conference in Manchester in August 2017.

After the final break of the weekend, FFI staff member Kaitlyn Ranney spoke about many large-scale marketing and communications projects in development at FFI Headquarters, which included a reveal of the new FFI promotional video and a sneak-peek at the new FFI website.  Finally, Jeremi closed the 2016 World Conference with heartfelt remarks and a reading of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem, “Human Family.” As is tradition, delegates stood to join hands and sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” as the 2016 FFI World Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco concluded.


2015 - Vancouver, Canada

FFI hosted the 2015 World Conference in Vancouver, Canada August 28-31, 2015 with over 500 delegates attending representing 127 clubs from 23 countries; Dallas had 19 people attending - the most of any club. Conference activities took place at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel, hosted by the Friendship Force of Metro Vancouver.

Theme of the conference was Buildilng Bridges. Activities began with an evening welcome reception and performance by the Vancouver Men's Welch Chorus on August 28, with the official opening of the conference taking place the following morning. A gala dinner was held on August 30, with the closing of the conference on August 31. Interesting speakers and workshops were held during the three days along with generation of new ideas and commitments to FFI goals.

Primary among issues discussed was the inability to fill exchanges, resulting in a pending deficit for the organizaton. Clubs and individuals are asked to contribute to financing a new database and website.

Read more about the Vancouver conference on the FFI website, including notes from the presenters and workshop leaders.

The Vancouver Welsh Men's Chorus performed at the opening session, with audience members joining in singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth."  


2014 - Auckland, NZ

Our hosts for our 37th World Conference were the members of the Friendship Force of New Zealand. They worked with FFI staff to arrange an unforgettable program as well as a variety of optional tours offering an authentic and memorable experience.

In the nation known as the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ spectacular landscapes, grand movie productions, 'kiwis', silver ferns, fantastic local seafood and wines, good friends rule the day! Delgates enjoyed beautiful accommodations at the Rendezvous Grand Hotel in Auckland, an unforgettable Maori powhiri welcome, engaging, interactive FFI presentations and leadership training, updates from clubs around the world, cultural workshops to ‘change the way you see the world’, the city's finest dining, shopping and entertainment at your doorstep, a selection of interesting day tours around Auckland, and lots of incredible surprises!

Many exchanges and homestays took place before and after the conference.

Isabella Iverson represented the Dallas club at the convention and presented a program on the conference. She reported:

The 2014 World Conference of FF International was held in Auckland, NZ. This was my third trip to NZ and I was excited to be attending the conference.

300 people from 15 countries attended the conference. This conference was much smaller than the prior one in New Orleans (over 750). Having less people made it easier to reconnect with friends from past exchanges. A major part of attending a conference is the joyful connecting with them and making new friends.

The theme of the conference was "Friendship for the Future." The conference opened with the traditional Maori greeting before any greetings were given by Friendship Force.

Several workshops were presented to give us information and tools to better our exchanges.

We experienced the Maori culture through dance, music and song. There was an evening Sing-Along Musical Mystery program that provided much laughter.

Many awards were given to honor clubs and volunteers for excellence and leadership

To fully understand a FF World conference it has to be experienced. I hope you will attend one in the near future.

2014 Friendship Force International Conference Survey

The following letter was issued by Joy DiBenedetto on Nov 3, regarding the survey sent to all clubs:

Hello, Friendship Force members and leaders around the world!

I hope this note finds you all doing well as we head into the holiday season.

We recently held the 37th annual Friendship Force World Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, with a wonderful turnout and many good friends in attendance. If you were there it was terrific to see you - if you were not there, you were missed.

(You can find highlights as well as presentations, photos and videos from the conference on our website here.)

At the conference, we gave a brief review of the results from this past summer’s unprecedented Global Membership Survey. This survey was lengthy (we know!) and we appreciate that so many of you participated in it. Future surveys will be more targeted and shorter, we promise.

For now though, these answers have really helped us to connect the dots of our global membership network, and the results are currently being used to finalize the new Friendship Force International Strategic Plan, slated to run from 2015 to 2018. We will be sharing this plan with all of you very soon. In the meantime, we have asked club leaders for comments on certain elements of the plan, due back to us by November 14th.

I'm writing to you all today to share the highlights of the Global Membership Survey results, which were shared in Auckland. As we work toward shaping the Friendship Force of the future, we want to make sure your voice and your contributions are included, and these survey results represent some of your thoughts. Click here to download the results (PDF).

A most heartening aspect of these results were the hundreds of you who made personal comments and who shared your contact information with us, 'raising your hand' and saying that you want to help us as we grow our extraordinary organization for now and for the next generation. You can be sure we will be calling upon you for support and ideas.

Should you have any questions regarding these results, please do not hesitate to ask or make comments: you can reply to this email directly.

Please know we enjoy hearing from you.

In friendship,

Joy E. DiBenedetto


2013 - New Orleans, LA

The Friendship Force International Conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA November 22-25, 2013. The official host club was the Friendship Force of Baton Rouge and the conference itself was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the French Quarter. Registrations flooded in for the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans, November 23-25, with a final count of nearly 700 representing 32 countries. Some optional events and homestays sold out. 

There was no better place to celebrate our mission than the festive city of New Orleans. Together, we enjoyed the world famous jazz music, cuisine and architecture of this iconic city, and shared our ideas, knowledge, and plans for a strong future for the organization we all love.

Our conference hosts, the Friendship Force of Baton Rouge, prepared an unforgettable, three-day event. Here are some more of the conference highlights:
- A focus on the music and cuisine of one of the USA's most culturally diverse places 
- The opportunity to meet and hear from FFI's newly appointed President 
- Great low rates on a four-star hotel in the heart of the French Quarter 
- Updates from around the world and an introduction of the newest clubs 
- Specialized leadership training utilizing new materials developed by FFI 
- A Mississippi steamboat cruise with jazz and dinner 
- Our gala banquet with traditional jazz and a parade down Bourbon Street 
- A chef-led cooking workshop on classic New Orleans dishes
- Exciting tours in the city, to sugar plantations, swamplands and more 
- A Thanksgiving home stay after the conference with US families
- The opportunity to make friends from around the globe in this romantic and vibrant city!

Attending from Dallas were:
Bill and Patti Pierce, Isabella Iverson, Ray Enstam, Zia Shamsy, Cathy Ignatin,
edward perez, Paula Rose, Henny Houston, Jacki Kiether, Caryl Madison, Teresa Wilkin, Mary Williams and Taylor and Stan Parker from FW/D.

From the FFI Conference:

FFI elected its most globally diverse board of directors yet
Congratulations to the four new board members who will begin their terms in January:
•Kurt Hafaeli, FF Solothurn, Switzerland
•Fred Opondo, FF Nairobi, Kenya
•Robert Duncan, FF Baton Rouge, USA
•Ivan Ng, FF Nanyang, Singapore

Materials from the 2013 World Conference in New Orleans are now available online:
Feel free to browse these materials and many informative presentations.

Also, check out the FFI Awards page to read about this year's outstanding volunteers and clubs. The 2013 outstanding volunteers are Bobbie Mulholland and Peter Peiffer. The outstanding club awards went to Friendship Force of Sunshine Coast, Australia, and (jointly) to the Friendship Force clubs of Omaha, Lincoln, Kansas and Oklahoma, USA.

FFI also presented awards to individuals who were a shining representation of Friendship Force's dedication to Explore, Understand, and Serve.
- The Explore Award went to Dave and Pat Meyer of FF Northern Illinois;
- Understand went to Bob Langford of FF Dallas (pictured here with Ray Enstam, Paula Rose and Ed Edgren); and the
- Serve Award was presented to Yasushi Kinugasa of FF Koriyama and Tom and Jean Ledwidge of FF Sunshine Coast.

A special award was given to Mac and Gaby Mackenzie, formerly of the Dallas club, for their contributions in time and financial donations. Paula Rose accepted the award for Bob Langford.

FFI extends its sincere thanks to the Friendship Force of Baton Rouge and the conference committee led by Bob Duncan, as well as all the US clubs that provided post-conference hosting. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who participated in workshops and helped to make the 2013 World Conference an unforgettable weekend for all!

Some local color included  a performance of the Heritage Choral Society who entertained us with acapella Negro spirituals they are dedicated to preserve.

A jazz duo of Don Vappie and Ed Petersen serenaded us with Creole and blues and spoke about the Creole and Cajun cultures.

Workshops featured Creole cooking, Cajun dancing and international dancing.

A dinner cruise on a paddle wheeler with jazz combo entertainment was also a New Orleans specialty.

Our final cultural experience was participating in a parade through the French Quarter, led by stilt walkers, a jazz band and our own King and Queen. We were supplied with masks and beads to throw to onlookers who wondered what was going on – our opportunity to tell them about Friendship Force.

The purpose of the conference was to share best practices and new ideas from speakers and workshop leaders and participants; to hear what is going on in FFI overall – meeting the staff, hearing about the state of the organization and catching up on what is new; to honor those with outstanding accomplishments – including our own Bob Langford; to meet our new FFI president, Joy DiBenedetto; and to provide interaction and networking among members (old friends and new) from all over the world - the best part!


Post-Conference Homestay

Post-conference home stays took place over the American Thanksgiving holiday, giving participants the opportunity to experience the traditions of this beloved holiday with their hosts.

Dallas hosted two Canadian and three Brazilian ladies to introduce them to our Thanksgiving traditions (Nov 26-30). Hosts were Joan Mirabal (with Dale Klosterman day-hosting), Marty and Diana Behannesey and Paula Rose and edward perez.

From Brazil: Tecca Moura, (with Lorenzo Gonzalez, Paula Rose), Clea Borges, Eva deSilva

From Winnipeg Canada: Dolly Tukaluk and Norma Warecki


2012 - Hiroshima, Japan

Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2012 - Hiroshima, Japan

The Friendship Force International 35th World Conference was held in Hiroshima, Japan.

Hiroshima Peace Park

Theme: Hiroshima for Peace and Friendship

Hiroshima Peace Park

- Cultural performances (dancers & drummers)
- Miyajima tour
- Hiroshima city tour: World Heritage Center, Torii Gate, Peace Memorial Museum,
  Ground Zero of A Bomb
- Japanese cultural workshops
- FFI and volunteer workshops
- Dynamic keynote speakers
- Opportunities to meet and reconnect with friends from around the world.


Hiroshima peace memorialHiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima provides an inspiring setting for this conference theme. The city is a symbol of world peace, having risen from the ashes of World War II. The conference will be held on the grounds of the historic Peace Park, a landmark dedicated to world peace and the memory of those who lost their lives on August 6, 1945, in the explosion of the atomic bomb.
Hiroshima at night

The city of Hiroshima at night

   Hiroshima Castle 
        Hiroshima Castle

Keynote Speakers and Activities

Participants experienced Japan and the peace movement through several activities, givng inspiration to all for a strong future.

- Workshops on volunteer leadership, Japanese culture and new opportunities
- Opportunities to meet and converse with other Friendship Force volunteers,
  FFI board members and FFI staff
- Optional tour to beautiful Miyajima
- Japanese optional activities of choice
- Natural beauty surrounding Hiroshima and the Inland Sea
- Japan's rich cultural traditions
- Historic and cultural landmarks such as Miyajima and Iwakuni

Guest speakers

- Hidehiko Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture
- Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima
- Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation
- Sherry Mueller, President Emerita of the National Council for International Visitors
- Takaaki "James" Morikawa, President of FF Hiroshima and a survivor of the atomic bombing
- George Brown, President of Friendship Force International

Expansion Plan

2012 marks the 35th anniversary of The Friendship Force. Our mission — to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people — is just as important today as it was 35 years ago. Ensuring a successful future is essential to our mission. The Global Expansion Plan comprises five initiatives for building a strong Friendship Force for tomorrow.

1. Establish 45 new clubs
Establish new clubs in all regions of the world, bringing the total to over 400 for the first time and opening new countries and communities to our global exchange program.

2. Expand themed exchanges and new programs
From wine tasting and gardening to language learning and history, expand themed exchanges to attract a new generation of participants.

3. Leadership for tomorrow
Recruit, train and support volunteer leaders for tomorrow, with materials and techniques designed for a new generation of leaders.

4. Promote the Friendship Force globally
Increase regional, national and global recognition of the Friendship Force through the Internet, social media and global communications.

5. Raise $275,000 to pay for the Global Expansion
Challenge clubs, members and friends to step forward with financial donations to secure the future of the Friendship Force.

New Clubs

These new clubs are opening in 2012 with exchanges to them:
Mt. Fuji Yamanashi, Japan
Kalungu, Uganda

If you have contacts in the following regions, please tell FFI your name, your Friendship Force club, where your contacts are and what your connection to them is. Mary Mwambay, FFI Program Services Coordinator, will respond to discuss with you the possibility of reaching out to your contacts to establish a new club.

They are especially interested in:
France: The Friendship Force has a long, positive history in France, with two current clubs, FF Pau and FF Biarritz. We are hoping to open more clubs in France, and we are particularly looking for possible contacts in Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Poland and Lithuania: We are eager to reintroduce the Friendship Force to Poland and Lithuania, particularly the Krakow region (southern Poland) and the Vilnius area (capital city of Lithuania).
Canada: The Friendship Force is strong in Canada and well-equipped to support new clubs. We are especially interested in seeking contacts in the Vancouver area or Maritime Provinces.

Themed Exchanges – Coming Together

Themed exchanges create opportunities for new friendships to blossom from shared interests. For many ambassadors and hosts, the best parts of an exchange are the opportunities to discover all they have in common. Themed exchanges provide unique opportunities for Friendship Force members to come together around shared interests, such as gardening, language learning, hiking, history or the arts.

Many successful themed exchanges took place in 2011, including a performing arts exchange in Hamilton and Burlington, Canada; gardeners to Cornwall, UK; renewable energy advancements in Colorado, USA; vintage travel in New Zealand; and the history, technology and culture of the Mississippi River in the US.

FF Haliburton Highlands hosted a winter sports exchange in 2011 and again in 2012. Their guests learned the game of curling, went snowshoeing and drove a team of sled dogs.

The FF Niagara club provided bicycles and helmets and welcomed ambassadors to join them on their favorite trails. Ambassadors and hosts cycled the region together, taking in all the varied scenery including the canal, the Niagara vineyards, and the beautiful farmland and orchards.

Working together we can build a strong Friendship Force for tomorrow. See more at:

Post-conference hosting was available with several Japanese clubs and Dallasites Felicity Sentance and Teresa Wilkin attended those.

Conference Report

In March, 2013 the club heard an interesting presentation given by Felicity Sentance, our Dallas delegate, on the Hiroshima Conference and her homestay in Gifu, a small town in the mountains north of Hiroshima. She found the conference very informative - relaxing but educational and was able to put FFIFelicity Sentance faces to names and meet many members from several countries. A highlight was visiting the International Peace Park, sight of the atomic bomb hit. Teresa Wilkin also showed some pictures and described her homestay in Ehime prefecture which is on Shikoku Island. Leyla Akgerman also attended the conference.

Paper cranes were made and sent from clubs around the world as a peace symbol.


The Story of the Thousand Paper Cranes

multi-colored cranesHiroshima's Children's Peace Monument is dedicated to all the children who died as a result of the A-bomb. At the top, there is a statue of a girl holding a folded paper crane. This girl was Sadako Sasaki.

Two-year-old Sadako was blown out of the window at her home, about two miles from ground zero, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Miraculously, she survived, but ten years later she developed acute leukemia.

She had great faith in the popular Japanese belief that folding a thousand paper cranes would make her wishes come true; however she died eight months later. Sadako’s classmates completed the 1000 cranes and buried them with her.

They also began a fundraising campaign which was supported by the entire nation and erected a memorial to her and all the children who died from the effects of the atomic bomb.

CraneAt the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world." Gradually Sadako’s story spread throughout the world and the paper crane became a symbol of peace and hope.


2011 - Hamburg, Germany

August 26 - 30, 2011 - Hamburg, Germany

The 2011 conference was held at the 4-star Ramada Hotel Hamburg-Bergedorf in in the borough of Bergedorf, a historic 13th century town on the river Bille. The town boasts a picturesque castle and cobbled streets with cafes. It is a suburb of Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city.

The conference theme was “Leadership for Tomorrow.” Through workshops andHamburg map plenary sessions, participants learned about future plans for our organization, as well “best practices” that provided practical information on strengthening clubs and exchanges. There was time for informal gatherings for leaders to share with each other one-on-one while developing new friendships and renewing old ones. The gala banquet followed a traditional Hanseatic theme.

Larry Kurtz was Exchange Director: [email protected]

2011 FF International Exchanges - First Half Year 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 2010, even with the cancellation of 11 exchanges due to the tragedy of the Japanese tsunami.

Some Highlights

- 6 global exchanges with 163 ambassadors recruited globally
- 3 youth exchanges with a total of 148 high school students.
- The “winter festival” exchange to Winnipeg and Ottawa with 34 ambassadors
- 40 ambassadors on the Enrichment Voyage to the Panama Canal, with optional
  home stay in Costa Rica.
- More special themed exchanges - Gardeners to Cornwall, Eco Exchange to
  Costa Rica, Cycling in Niagara, and Sustainable Energy Festival in
  Northern Colorado.

Important “firsts”

- Our new Canadian club, FF Stratford and St Marys (started 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
  (with Friendship Force of Dallas members Lee and Mary Latham).

HamburgHamburg is not only culturally rich and diverse, but with its stylish elegance and maritime charms it counts amongst the most beautiful cities in Europe. Following the Conference, there were several optional tours and post-conference homestays hosted by a German club.


2010 - Washington, DC

October 16 - 18, 2010 - Washington, DC


Conference Highlights

Slightly over 500 Friendship Force members from 29 countries attended the 2010 World Conference in Washington, DC - Saturday, October 16 - Monday, October 18. Azerbaijan had 11 attendees, Burundi had 10 and Russia had 15 - these delegates were especially proud to be in attendance.

The whole conference was designed to give the delegates ample opportunity to network with people from around the world. Many were able to meet with people they have formerly hosted or had as their hosts. There were many "how to " sessions given by Friendship Force members who had tried something new and had been successful.

President George Brown kept the conference moving smoothly.

Special speakers included Sherry Mueller, President of the International Visitors Council, Patrick Madden, President of Sister Cities, Vera De Duchananne, Program Manager for Open World, and Charles Damback, President of the Alliance for Peace Building and formerly Director of the National Peace Corps.

Special recognition was given to Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, and US representative to the United Nations and to the Honorable Kazuo Aichi of Tokyo, Japan.

There are two new clubs in Albania, also new clubs in Nepal and Morocco; there is a possible change in status in China to a club; the Discover trip to Argentina may result in new clubs there.

Building the Friendship Force of the Future

Plenary sessions and leadership workshops focused on how togrow your club for the future. Sessions featured new initiatives in membership growth, exchange planning, club management and publicity; along with tips on how to design new themed exchanges for both outbound and inbound exchanges.

Diana Maliqaj and her mother - Albania

Events boardCitizen Diplomacy

Prominent speakers from a variety of Washington-based international organizations and government agencies introduced Friendship Force leaders to the growing global movement known as citizen diplomacy. We learned how important our mission is in today’s world and how to connect with organizations in our community that share our goals.

Ottawa delegates - SullivansNetworking

We enjoyed the global gathering with Friendship Force leaders from six continents, meeting our counterparts, learning from their experiences and developing new friendships.

     Ottawa delegation - Sullivans seated


Having fun is a requirement at any Friendship Force gathering, and Sunday’s gala banquet featured entertainment, music, dancing, and camaraderie. The theme of our banquet was "World Costumes," so many costumes and national dress were worn.

Indonesian dancersThe Sunday evening gala was especially delightful with a wonderful roast beef and salmon dinner and entertainment by several different groups. A real highlight was the dancers from Indonesia who had sent fourteen representatives to the conference.

Keynote Speaker John M. Suddes, who worked with the Board in strategic planning in 2007, reminded us that having a plan is not enough. Quoting John Ruskin, he said, “What we think or what we know or what we believe, is in the end of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.”

Explore WashingtonWashington,DC

Many people took advantage of the Renaissance Hotel location in the heart of downtown Washington to explore the rich history and culture of the nation's capital. There wasn't enough time to take advantage of the amazing array of museums, historic sites and cultural activities.

Ray Enstam, Mac and Gaby Mackenzie

Ray Enstam, Mac and Gaby Mackenzie at the entrance to Chinatown 

Conference Notes

The International organization is working to attract a broader and younger range of members. (Check out the much-improved website.) The monthly Catalog updates, the online Newsletter and active email marketing invite more people to join exchanges in order to fill them.
We as a club might consider:
- What can we do to recruit more members and leaders? (Priority 1 - Essential to sustaining the organization.)
- What do we need to do to allow the organization to thrive?
- Will we be relevant 30 years from now? Individual members can help attract new members by personal contact:
- Cultivate people who believe in the mission of FFI.
- Utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites.
- Forward our promotional video (see page 4), newsletters, exchange notices, etc. to friends and prospective members with a personal note, such as - I thought you might be interested in this, or I’d like to invite you to visit our next meeting, etc.

Quick Facts

- 244 exchanges were conducted in 2009 with 3,877 ambassadors traveling. More than 2,500 families across the globe served as hosts.
- 346 chartered clubs and programs in 59 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.
- Almost 225,000 ambassadors and 750,000 hosts have participated in Friendship Force programs since 1977.


Outstanding clubs
- FF of Sacramento - World Friendship Day community event, dancing, music, educational items, hosted Indonesians
- Edmonton - Hosted Festival; offer stopover hospitality
Vicki Vance
Outstanding Volunteers
- Vicki Vance – Baton Rouge - for Eco-exchanges, Gardening, Discover Argentina, mentoring other leaders
- Ari Ben Muktar – Indonesian clubs - for model clubs; board of directors

Post-conference Homestay

Many Friendship Force clubs in a wide region hosting four night homestay for the many participants requesting it. A great way to conclude the World Conference week.


2009 - Okinawa, Japan

November 19 - 22, 2009 - Okinawa, Japan  

FF Int’l decided to skip this year’s conference in Okinawa citing the high costs of traveling abroad and slow reservations.


2008 International Conference

October 2- 5, 2008 - Gold Coast Australia

AustraliaThe 2008 conference was held at the Marriott Hotel.


2007 - Atlanta, GA

Feb 28 - March 3, 2007 - Atlanta, Georgia
30 year logo
30th Anniversary Celebration

Conference Hotel, Sheraton at Colony Square, Downtown Atlanta
March 1st Leadership Development Seminar
March 1st 30th Anniversary Gala Event
Homestays in the Southeast in Georgia,Tennessee, North & South Carolina, and Alabama

Marilyn Wilson, Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter

Marilynn Wilson with Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter

Conference Report
by edward perez

In late February, Edward Perez, Paula Rose, Ray Enstam, Mary Williams, Mary Suther, and Jim Bourn traveled to Atlanta, GA as FFD's official delegates to the FFI Conference and to celebrate FFI's 30th Aniversary.

I attended a Leadership workship where FFI introduced the new outbound Exchange Director training material. We will incorporate this material into our existing material for EDs. I also attended workshops on international exchanges and festivals (these are increasing number), exchanges that make a difference, service programs to Tanzania and the mission exchange to Cuba (I showed my photos from that exchange), and publicizing Friendship Force.

Atlanta - poster to Cuba                      
     Note photos of Paula Rose and edward perez at the
                                  top/right, who participated in this exchange

Others attended workshops on filling exchanges, music - an international language, travel & travel insurance, Q&A with George Brown (President, FFI), computer skills, and expansion into Asia. All of us attended the Gala Dinner and Program at the Atlanta Aquarium (very cool!!).

Best of all, for me, was meeting FF members from all corners of our globe - Tanzania, US, Japan, Ghana, Colombia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya, Germany, Canada - some veterans members (20 years+) and some brand new members (Yvonne from FF Ghana had just joined in January!). And after talking with them, even for a brief time, realizing that we are all one big family, all working to improve relations between peoples around the world, one person, one exchange at a time.

If you have never been to a regional or an international conference (the next ones will be in Baton Rogue, Los Angeles and Gold Coast, Australia, respectively), I promise you will be enlightened and inspired. Note - Dallas hosted the international conference with Fort Worth in Nov 2002 and will host the SW Regional Conference in 2009!


Vlasta Span, Mary Williams, Pjerina Dekanvovic - friends from Croatia


2006 - Dublin, Ireland

October 12-15, 2006 - Dublin, Ireland

This year's conference took place at the new conference facility, Crowne Plaza – Dublin Airport. On Friday afternoon, October 13, there was an optional leadership seminar for the 2006 & 2007 club leaders – Presidents and Exchange Directors. That evening we officially kicked-off the conference with an opening banquet at the Crowne Plaza – Dublin Airport. Workshops began on Saturday morning. In addition to the workshops that are pertinent to Friendship Force leaders and members, we also had workshops on the local culture and history of Ireland. Saturday optional dinner was at Taylor’s Irish Night. The conference concluded Sunday morning, October 15th. 


2005 - Sao Paulo, Brazil
November 3 - 6, 2005 - Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Friendship Force of São Paulo hosted the 2005 exchange in this country with thousands of different landscapes, a huge blend of colors, wonderful sounds and smells, but above all the people. If Rio has gained fame for its striking postcard harbor, São Paulo's attraction lies in its people and its vibrant cultures. A more cosmopolitan city than its counterpart, São Paulo possesses significant ethnic communities making it the perfect place to host Friendship Force's 29th International Conference. Brazil's most modern city had much to offer in terms of outstanding cuisines, fine museums, coastlines graced with many lovely beaches, entertainment and an exciting nightlife.

Post-conference home hosting was held for 4 nights by the clubs in the São Paulo area. Following the conference or after the home hosting there were optional tours to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Veja-O Aí!


2004 Los Angeles, CA

November 4 - 7, 2004 - Los Angeles, CA

The theme was “Reach for the Stars” - a time to look to the future, strive for the highest ideals, and follow what is the most meaningful to us in our involvement with Friendship Force International.

This year’s conference inaugurates a new period of Friendship Force history as we move ahead with innovative concepts and renewed leadership. Four-night homestays  were offered by The Friendship Force clubs of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Orange County, and Kern County.

Jim Bourn was the official representative of the Dallas club at the conference.
The LA Conference committee was led by Nancy Arnheim {who attended the Dallas 2002 International Conference!).

Conference Events

- A "California Casual" opening reception and banquet
- Twelve different workshop topics addressing membership, exchange experiences and relationshipswith those you encounter through the Friendship Force
- Optional tours in the city and in Hollywood/ Beverly Hills
- Speeches from a space architect, an expert on California's gold, and FFI President George Brown
- The glamorous "Be A Star" gala dinner and dancing event
- Award presentations for significant volunteer achievement and the conference's friendliest delegate
- A fabulous four-day fiesta where old friends were reunited and new ones from around the world made! 

Conference Report
by Jim Bourn

Ed and Dora Stahl, Al and Nancy Hicks and Jim Bourn represented the club at the 2004 Friendship Force International 28th annual Conference. Over 300 people attended including representatives from 14 countries. A great time was had by all - greeting old friends and making new contacts.

The FFI staff, led by George Brown, arranged interesting and informative sessions. All were instructed on how to more effectively plan and lead exchanges. The FFI exchanges were very successful this year. George, with the help of the FFI Staff, Board and the FF Los Angeles club, kept the meetings fun as they told us about new programs to many new places.

A new program was announced to honor Wayne Smith and put FFI on a firm financial footing. The program, "Building on a Great Legacy," will start March 1, 2005 with as many clubs as possible joining in World Friendship Day - with round the world club meetings that start in New Zealand and end 24 hours later in Hawaii. The plan is to add 30 new clubs and expand exchange opportunities. The celebrations on March 1 will include fund raising projects to jump-start the new programs.

Speakers at special sessions explained alternative exchanges such as chorus, youth and special fair trips.


Outstanding clubs:
- Service - Mesla Kachel, Mexico
- Public Relations - Greater Cincinnati
- Programs - Itanhaem, Brazil

Outstanding individuals:
- Outstanding Achievement - Sue Hock of Southern New Jersey
- Most enthusiastic person at the convention - Pjerina Dekanovic from Croatia and an attendee from Japan

The Stahls and Hicks remained for a post-conference homestay in Southern California. Jim returned with the feeling that FFI is in good shape and making great steps to increase program to reach out to the world in Peace and Friendship.


2003 - Budapest, Hungary

BudapestOct 30 - Nov 2, 2003 - Budapest, Hungary 

Our conference was held at the Hilton Budapest Hotel, in the spectacular Castle District of the Buda hills. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site preserved much as it was in previous centuries. It is in a neighborhood of cobblestone streets reminiscent of a past age.

The theme was "Rejuvenation" – the renewal of our organization, our membership, our programs, and our mission.

The Conference Keynote Speaker was Mr. Jakob Finci, a founder of The Friendship Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Mr. Finci has extensive experience in humanitarian and inter-religious issues in Bosnia-Herzegovina and is also a recognized expert on peace and reconciliation.

Pre-conference tours to Prague, Vienna and Bratislava; to Croatia and Bosnia were offered; and to four different cities in Hungary as well as post-conference homestays in Hungary and Slovakia.

Conference Report
By Jim Bourn, President

Everyone had a great time in Budapest, the Pearl of Eastern Europe. The city is undergoing a radical facelift.  The European Union wants the improvement, and the dividends will be wonderful for the city. Every day there is another cleanup of an old building to show off the beautiful moldings and sconces. Under the old paint long-lost frescos are being discovered.

The city has beautiful parks and plazas. The largest statue is the Vorosmarty statue in honor of the great poet who wrote the national anthem - the grandfather of our own Dr. Ava Vorosmarty Rowe. The schools have a big contest each year for the student to recite his poetry.  

The international meeting was a big success with over 350 attending (81 from the U.S). Susie Smith, the President of FFI, was warm, friendly, and listened attentively to many suggestions as well as gave “atta boys.” It was good to see old friends and enjoy the meetings, banquet and dinner cruise. After the conference, five buses left for homestays or tours of Hungary.

International Conference 2003 Award Winners

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2003 awards:
- Outstanding Club Achievement: The Friendship Force of Dayton, USA
- Excellence in Public Relations: The Friendship Force of Koriyama, Japan
- Excellence in Programs: The Friendship Force of Whidbey Island, USA

- Outstanding Volunteer: Horst Neumann of Varel, Germany
- Excellence in Service: Norma Hassinger of Atlanta, USA For U.S. Clubs

New Clubs

Our newest Friendship Force club is Kathmandu, Nepal. Congratulations to Shiva Shrestha for organizing Friendship Force International in Nepal! There are also three new clubs in Canada, two in Brazil, one in Bavaria, Germany and one in Arequipa, Peru.

Organizational Changes

The 9/11 attacks have greatly impacted travel organizations. Over the past two years, FFI staff has dropped from 23 to 12. This past year, Susie Smith’s first year in the President’s job, exchange cancellations were 30% (rather than 20%) due to an extremely low cash balance, rumors of war, the war in Iraq, SARS and the closing of Cuba to our trips there. However, the club is still alive. Magazines are behind, but the new one will be out soon.

A new Manual for Exchanges will be completed soon. More volunteers are being used as staff and expenses have been reduced. The peace-making mission to Jordan was difficult, but rewarding. More are being scheduled for May and in fall. Festivals in 2004 will be held in Charleston, SC and in Malta. A humanitarian trip to Cuba will be organized soon.

Letters sent to Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Carter last year after their withdrawal, along with Chip Carter, from Friendship Force were appreciated and a cordial relationship exists. The Board has become more responsive to members, and members may now nominate Board members.

Former Dallas Club President Mac McKenzie (now of Tampa) was elected to the Board of Trustees of Friendship Force International for a three-year terms beginning January 1, 2004. Our congratulations to Mac, and thanks to Jim Bourn for making the nomination. Mac, we’re so proud of you

Letter from Susie Smith, President, FFI 12/2003

We approach a new year, full of promise for good things ahead. Thank you for being a friend to the people of the world. I trust that your friendships made in 2003 have been rewarding and that they will continue to touch you in beautiful ways throughout your life

It is with great excitement that I share with you some happy personal news that will impact my role as President of FFI. Next year I will be getting married and will move to California to be with my future husband. While I am thrilled about my personal news, I remain committed to the well being of this wonderful organization. In order to ensure a smooth transition of FFI leadership, I will continue to serve as President until April 1, 2004 or as soon as the Board of Trustees has elected a new leader.

We already have made a great deal of progress in strengthening FFI in 2003. I believe this is due to the dedication and enthusiasm of thousands of people like you who participate in Friendship Force throughout the world. I hope that you will continue to work with each other, your club leaders, the FFI Staff and Board to keep our organization moving forward in a positive direction.

The opportunity to serve as President of FFI has been a life enriching experience. I am grateful to have had this chance to play a small yet meaningful part in the life of our organiza-tion. Since I will continue to work with you over the next several months, I will not say goodbye yet. Instead, I look forward to working with you to further friendship and peace in our world as we carry on with our plans for the coming year.


2002 - Dallas, TX

November 7 - 10, 2002 - Dallas Texas

The conference was held at the Doubletree Hotel/LBJ. 
Host clubs were Dallas and Fort Worth Texas
Conference Coordinator: Marilyn Wilson

The conference began on Thursday, November 7 with a reception from 6-7 PM followed by opening ceremonies, dinner and entertainment and speeches.
Friday was an informative day with a great night out at the Circle R Ranch for dinner. Western wear was a must. Bar-b-q dinner was served, and entertainment and line dancing followed for all to enjoy.
Saturday evening's Gala Dinner topped it off.
On Sunday morning at 10 AM there was presentation of awards, the invitation to next year's conference and final words from FFI

Conference Highlights

Walking Workshops put on by Friendship Force attendees to the Conference were open on Friday 3-5 PM and Saturday 10:30 AM-12 PM.

Conference attendees were able to walk around and see displays of best practices and ideas that clubs are using. There was a variety of topics and to see and hear. Several of our members were presenters.


Mary Williams displayed meeting flyers and newsletters

Ridings-displayMyrna and Dick Ridings shared their publicity ideas

Ray Enstam also presented a Walking Workshop on our computer Bridgebuilder program for the blind.

Our dinners were great and decorations were soooo wonderful. The Decorations Committee was headed by Ruthelle Wilson and Jean Griswold. Our Thursday night dinner is a Tex-Mex theme with Texas decorations and Mexican dancers for entertainment. Special silver (anniversary) decorations were used  for Saturday’s gala.

A Silent Art Auction went on all day Friday and Saturday and closed on Saturday night. Some beautiful art work was for sale. Our club donated two of the pieces. We also had a World Bazaar on Sunday morning with items for sale from around the world.


                   Chip Carter and Marilyn Wilson


Jerry Tuttle, FW Conference Chair; Joy Perigo, FW President; Marilyn Wilson, Dallas Conference Chair; Mac Mackenzie, Dallas President


26th International Conference Conference Report
by Marilyn Wilson

WE DID IT! Our Conference is over and it went very smoothly. Our speakers were excellent, entertainment and food was great, workshops were interesting and our homestay was really fun! We had so many compliments from so many people on everything we did. We can be proud of our club and the work of our many volunteers. Thank you, thank you!
It is working on joint projects like this that involve the talents and hard work or so many people that confirm our belief in Friendship Force as an organization of people committed to our cause of international friendship. We hope that you deepened your friendships with members of our own club and met many interesting people from other clubs. 
Front row: Mary Williams, LaNell Naughton, Gaby Mackenzie, Jackie Bluhm, Wendy Whaley, Marilyn Wilson; Back row: Joy Perigo, Jerry Tuttle, Mac Mackenzie, Jerry Bluhm, Jim Naughton, John Whaley, Alan Terrell, Pam Varney Terrell


Comments from Mac Mackenzie, President

The FFI Conference and post-conference hosting are over! I hope everyone had a good time and enjoyed the various talks and sessions. This conference will be a memorable occasion for many members because it was the first time FFI had held their annual conference in Dallas and also it coincided with the resignations of Chip Carter as President of FFI and his mother’s (Mrs. Rosalyn Carter) as Honorary Chairman of our Board of Trustees.

The conference was followed by home hosting for four days. Our club and Fort Worth club hosted about sixty ambassadors. These people came from various corners of the world and I believe all involved had a good time. Sixty ambassadors at one time was equivalent to about three regular exchanges all rolled into one! Coordinating this was a huge task with names being added and deleted continuously. Thanks to all the hosts. I hope everyone enjoyed the experience, especially those participating for the first time.

A number of members have asked for an update on the outcome of a situation that evolved at the recent FFI Conference. It appears that in recent months differences in philosophy about the operations and budget of FFI have developed between Chip Carter and this Board of Trustees. A major split also occurred on Thursday of the Conference regarding the election of two new members to this Board. The Carter family and Chip issued an ultimatum that was not acceptable to the Board.

The bottom line is that Chip Carter has resigned as President of FFI, effective January 1 and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter has resigned as our Honorary Chairman of the Board effective immediately. The basic reason is stated to be differences in the appointments to the Board of Trustees.

This situation will not make any significant difference to our club or to our dealings with the staff in Atlanta. We will continue as usual, enjoying our exchanges to the full.

Comments from the Baton Rouge Newsletter

Constance Swank put together a program of highly respected speakers who addressed us during five plenary session and dinner speeches. Dr. Louise Diamond, a peace arbitrator, gave us copies of The Peace Book that we will circulate among our members. We heard how demographics alert us to a changing world. We learned that whether selling Coca Cola or Friendship Force what the world wants is connectedness. Personal endorsement is more effective than any kind of impersonal advertisement. Spreading the word of Friendship Force by telling others of our experiences is the way for the organization to grow. We were reminded that 1/6 of the world population is Moslem as we heard about the issues, beliefs and practices of that faith.

On the practical side there were "walking workshops" in a room set up with display areas and resource people to discuss various topics like fund raising, exchange booklets, special humanitarian projects, etc. Constance Swank and Chip Carter led a session on the new "transparent" funding of exchanges. 
Most of the meals were provided which gave us opportunities to eat and share ideas with different delegates. It was fun to see the familiar faces of those whom we had hosted or who had hosted us throughout the world. It was informative to meet with people from Hamburg and Cuba and discuss upcoming exchanges.


2001 - Bangkok, Thailand

November 1- 4, 2001 - Bangkok, Thailand

Dallas delegates who attended the conference were Ruthelle Wilson, Marilyn Wilson, Jackie Bluhm, Gaby and Mac Mackenzie (below). In addition, Chet and Vivian Hicks from Fort Worth attended.


Marilyn Wilson, Thai woman
Marilyn Wilson with Thai woman
Tours to Chaing Mai and Vietnam followed.


2000 - Madison, WI

November 9-12, 2000 - Madison, Wisconsin

The Conference convened in Madison, Wisconsin. Surrounded by three beautiful lakes, Madison is known as one of the nation’s best places to live. The conference was held in the Monona Terrace Convention Center, a building originally designed by world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Accommodations were at the Sheraton Madison Hotel. Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter were the featured guests at the Friday Nov 10 banquet.

Dallas members Madison
Dallas members: Don Erb, LaNell Naughton, Bev Erb, Marilyn Wilson, Dick Ridings,
            Nancy Hicks, Myrna Ridings, Al Hicks, Mary Williams, Ray Enstam

Conference Report

On November 9, ten Dallas members joined about 700 other delegates and guests at the four-day 24th International Conference of Friendship Force International in Madison, WI. Twenty-three countries and 35 states plus DC were represented. Members of the Madison club met us at the airport and provided transportation to our hotels. They greeted us, hung our coats and directed us around the beautiful Monona Conference Center, designed by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright in the 30s and built by the city of Madison in the 90s.

Former U.S. Senator James Symington gave the keynote address, reporting on the Russian Leadership Program, which brings young Russian leaders in all areas of Russian life to the U.S. to observe our country firsthand and see how we do things. The participants of this program are expected to influence thought and practices in business, government, education, health care and other areas within Russia. Several U.S. clubs hosted these visiting Russians and provided an integral part of their experience of American life.

New FFI President, Chip Carter reported on projects that are promoting world peace, including:
- Work done in third world countries by the Carter Center to alleviate blindness and death using simple remedies, taught at the local level
- New programs in agriculture and educationbr
- New clubs and/or exchange programs in China, Moslem countries and Cuba
- Internet improvements to the FFI homepage to allow on-line registration, chat rooms, local club webpages and individual e-mail

Former President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Carter spoke on their association with Friendship Force and gave a tribute to retiring Wayne Smith. Other speakers reported on the Sahara Desert project, which will launch another aid caravan to the 20,000 refugees living there in October 2001.

AA tribute was given by Claude Armendariz to Wayne Smith, founder of Friendship Force and his contributions to this organization.

Awards were given to outstanding clubs and volunteers:
- Ana Peurta accepted an award for her work in establishing exchange programs in Cuba. She was a familiar face to Dallasites who visited Cuba in September.
- An award for outstanding club was given to the Dallas club; cited were our exchanges, club leadership and involvement of members in our club.

Workshops included Club Management, Faces Not Places, Bridgebuilders, Raising and Spending Money, Diversifying Club Membership, Leadership, Community Connections, PR/Publicity and FFI as a Resource. Our own Nancy Hicks and Marilyn Wilson ably represented Dallas on workshop panels.
Optional activities were an enjoyable tour of Madison, including the State Capitol building, the Unitarian meeting hall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a dinner theater evening at nearby Fort Atkinson for dinner and a Christmas review.

Those of us attending represented our club to members of other clubs for possible exchanges, while getting information about their clubs.


December 3-5, 1999 - London, England

Nancy HicksConference Report
by Nancy Hicks

The Friendship Force International Conference held in London December 3-5 was informative and very interesting. The Dallas members attending – Nancy and Al Hicks, Ray Enstam, Mary-Helen Lyons and Mary Williams - made many new friends and contacts with people in clubs from Germany, Netherlands, England, Northern Ireland, Japan, Bulgaria, France and more. I visited at length with Chip Carter and was enchanted with our new Vice President of Friendship Force. I also met a wonderful couple from Pau, France and some very special members from Hamburg, Germany and from Thames, New Zealand where we will be home-hosted in March. I exchanged cards with over 30 people from everywhere, including some American clubs for possible inter-club exchanges. Our other delegates also distributed a number of our brochures and cards to interested clubs.

It was very exciting to be asked to conduct the Membership Workshop, which was attended by about 80 people. Your ideas and good work this year in public relations and membership were well received. FFI representatives loved the idea of a 25 cent fine for every negative comment and the question and answer session turned into positive suggestions only. Dallas is now on the map as a club full of positive energy and has been recommended to other clubs as a source of ideas on “what to do.”

Our homestay following the conference was in St. Albans, a medieval town that is now a suburb of London. It was a wonderful experience and a good contact for our club. If you ever have a chance to attend an international conference, do so! It is wonderful! Wunderbar! Maravisso! Bon! Maravilhoso!

Some Facts

- 5,076 ambassadors went on outbound exchanges last year.
- Volunteers of the year: Lou and MaryAnn Novak - for starting a club in Zagreb, Croatia and arranging the first exchange there (See this month's Friendship Magazine); and Sammy Yaboa from Ghana, Africa - a one-man PR person in Africa.
- Clubs of the Year: St. Petersburg, Russia (hosting five inbound exchanges and going on two outbound); and Kansas (five outbound and two incoming - Vietnam and Brazil).

Back to FFI

Contact Information
Postal address: P. O. Box 551151, Dallas, TX 75355
Phone and fax: 214- 699-7574 
E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriendshipForceDallas/
Webmaster: [email protected]