WHAT IS FRIENDSHIP FORCE?
The Friendship Force is a private, non-profit international citizen’s organization, founded in 1977 for the purpose of creating an environment where seeds of friendship can be sown across the barriers which separate people.
The Friendship Force attains its goals through the travel of over 61,000 goodwill Ambassadors each year to share the lifestyle of a host family in another country for a week or two. Friendship Force hosts thus experience the culture of another land without leaving their own community. Since the programme began, over 100,000 Ambassadors and more than 270,000 Hosts have participated, touching the lives of one and a half million people around the world, and providing The Friendship Force motto that “a world of friends is a world of peace.”
Whatever their experience, Friendship Force members learn that each person can make a difference in world peace and understanding, and that friendships develop most favourably when participants focus on faces, not places, and maintain a flexible and positive attitude.
The Friendship Force is not a tourist program, but rather provides an opportunity for persons throughout the world, independent of national politics, to become ambassadors from their nations. As an ambassador, you will be travelling to another nation sharing that family’s lifestyle. A visit may have up to three phases and each phase of a visit is limited to one week with each host.
The Friendship Force was founded in 1977 by Wayne Smith and was announced on 17 March 1977, by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of State Governors. It is affiliated with no religious or political organizations and is non-profit. The International Offices are located in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. with approximately 350 Clubs in 60 countries around the world.
The Friendship Force was a 1992 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. An International Advisory Council composed of distinguished persons serves as a board of Trustees for the organization.
SOME COMMON QUESTIONS
Who may become a member? Membership is open to all. Once you pay your dues you are entitled to host and travel.
Must I host a family. One of the real joys of membership is the opportunity to open your home to someone from a different country. Many who are unable to travel themselves are able to sample the culture of a dilterent country in this manner.
Is this expensive? No. If you are accustomed to tour company prices they may seem cheaper, but you never get the Friendship Force experience. Expected savings in a weeks lodging may be offset by gifts for your hosts or taking them out for meals, etc. Remember, we are focusing on faces as well as places, and the joy of making lifetime fliends from another culture cannot be measured in monetary terms, that is why we call it The Friendship Force expenence!
Who may go? There are no restrictions if you are in good health and you would like to learn more about the other millions of people who live on our planet, you may very well be a Friendship Force person.
Will I get to know other members? As new members you get back what you put into the club. We believe it is pointless joining a club if you don’t participate. It is up to you to how you are going to enjoy the fellowship, etc. Members should promote their club whenever they are with a group of people – ask them to bring their friends and family to club functions, especially hosting events. The Club hosts “guess who’s coming” dinners, BBQ’s, Dine-outs and other functions so that club members get to know one another. Going overseas on an exchange is a bonus. Sometimes we have too many wishing to go, and your name will be put on the waiting list-
THE FRIENDSHIP FORCE OF THE SUNSHINE COAST
Our local Club, actively involved in citizen exchanges with overseas Friendship Force Clubs, was founded in 1989. Our newsletter, called the “Sunseeker”, keeps members informed of the activities of the Club.
We have a General Meeting on the last Sunday morning every second month, commencing January. These meetings start at 9:30am but most members get there at about 9am to have a chat with friends. Workshops are held for home hostings of overseas visitors during the year. They are augmented with a full calendar of other social events.
The Friendship Force of the Sunshine Coast has visited United States, Japan, England, New Zealand, Germany, Holland and Taiwan. Ambassadors from Japan, England, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Taiwan, United States, Ghana Russia, Costa Rica and Brazil have visited our Club. We also have interclub visits from other Australian Clubs.
Some Facts: –
- Established by Wayne Smith in 1977 with the help of the then Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter.
- It is non-political, non-religious, non-profit, not a travel club, not a dating club with travel as a bonus.
- The club caters for exchanges, bridge builders, festivals etc.
- Each phase of an exchange is one week both inbound and outbound.
- All ambassadors should leave as a group but can extend their trip and return home at their leisure,
- All exchanges have an Exchange Director appointed and conduct workshops before exchange.
- Ambassadors are encouraged to write letters of introduction at the request of their Exchange Director before departing and ED’s send these letters of introduction from the group to the hosts at an early stage of planning.
- We all pay an administration fee to Friendship Force Atlanta to organize the exchange.
- Exchanges can vary in length from one phase (week) to three or four phases.
- All Ambassadors pay US$100 per week per Ambassador for each phase and this is on forwarded to the hosting clubs for their program. Ambassador requested events or add-ons can incur additional expense.
- Hosts receive no recompense while hosting.
- Application forms must be filled in by members wishing to host or travel as Ambassadors.
- Club joining fee is currently $50 which includes your badge and first years membership.
- In our Club yearly membership is currently $30 and is set each year by the board and is subsidised from club funds.
- Our club produced the “Sunseeker” newsletter each month, which is e-mailed out to members.
- Australian clubs are arranged in regions, we are in Northern Region, and we have a yearly conference in each region by rotation.
- We conduct inter-club visits with other Australian clubs.
- Our club conducts many activities such as coffee and chat mornings, theatre outings, auctions, picnics, BBQ’s, wine tastings, bus trips, dine outs, guess who is coming to dinner and progressive dinners.
- Our membership covers all Sunshine Coast from Caloundra to Noosa and the Hinterland.
- Members may travel with other clubs on outbound exchanges. They should attend their workshops. Those wishing to travel with another club must be arranged this through the club President.
- Our club is Incorporated and Insured.
- Interested persons are very welcome to our meetings, which are held on the last Sunday of every second month beginning January.
- Meetings start at 9:30am but most arrive soon after 9am.
- Prospective members must attend a meeting of the club before they can make an application to join. They are then interviewed in their home by club officials and then be passed by the board of directors.