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New Orleans Conference 2013

FFI Promotional Material

About Friendship Force

Be more than a tourist. Travel for good.

Whether you’re planting a community garden in Jamaica, practicing Spanish in Colombia, or cycling with locals in Germany, every personal friendship you create when you travel plays a small part in building a more peaceful world.

Multiply that effect by 18,000 – that’s the number of people around the world already committed to peace through friendship. They are the Friendship Force.

With volunteers on the ground in 70 countries, our programs bring these diverse people together, into one another’s cultures and even homes, to share one-of-a-kind experiences not available to regular tourists.

Through these exciting personal encounters, strangers become friends – and if we can build a world of friends, we can build a world of peace.

Our members are ordinary people just like you, who travel or host in the name of global friendship.

Explore your world.
Understand its people.
Serve the cause of peace.

Become an ambassador of the Friendship Force today.


Ten Reasons to Explore the World with the Friendship Force

1. Go where you’ve never been
Take a journey into the heart of a country and its people. Friendship Force International conducts over 300 programs every year, in 377 communities in 60 countries. Friendship Force hosts are eager to welcome you into their culture, sharing sights and experiences that are not available to tourists.

2. Get off the beaten track
There’s no better way to see a new place than with a friend who knows its “best kept secrets.” You might dine in a palace in Indonesia, visit a remote village in Africa, or see a polo match in Argentina.

3. Cultural immersion
Through the unique Friendship Force program of home hospitality, international travelers are hosted in the homes of local families. In this way, you can get to know a new culture from the inside. For example, you might learn local pastimes, such as calligraphy in Japan or snowshoeing in Canada, or you could learn family recipes in your host’s kitchen. You might even be invited to a religious ceremony or a wedding.

4. Personal friendships
When you travel or host with the Friendship Force, you get to know real people by sharing real life. Often, friendships are formed that last a lifetime.

5. Bring the world to your doorstep
As a Friendship Force host, you can explore the world without leaving home by extending the hand of friendship to international guests. It’s a rewarding experience to give your guests an up-close, insider’s view of life in your country, either through overnight home hospitality or daytime cultural activities.

6. Represent your country
When you travel or host with the Friendship Force, you have the opportunity to share knowledge of your country and culture with new friends from around the world. Through friendly conversation and everyday experiences, you become part of changing the way others see your culture and the world.

7. Make a Difference
There are many opportunities to make a difference in communities around the world. For example, you can help your new friends practice your language, bring supplies to a needy school, or host foreign teachers attending a professional development program in your city.

8. Pursue your passions around the world
Themed programs allow participants to come together to explore a common interest in a unique region of the world. You could spend a week exploring the gardens of England, studying biodiversity in Costa Rica, touring vineyards in New Zealand, or cycling the Niagara Falls region, all with the company of international friends who share your enthusiasm.

9. Lifelong learning
The Friendship Force promotes lifelong learning through a variety of travel and hosting programs. For example, programs especially for teachers and students promote education across borders. Language learning programs provide the opportunity to spend a week in a foreign country with a host family, in full language immersion.

10. Promote Global Goodwill
Friendship Force participants greet the world with an open mind and respect for other cultures. In this way, each person makes an individual contribution toward global goodwill.

Find out how you can Get Involved with the Friendship Force.

A Brief History of the Friendship Force


The Friendship Force was founded by Wayne Smith and introduced on March 1, 1977, by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of state governors. At that time, President Carter asked the governors to return to their states and identify a volunteer leader who would serve as State Director for the Friendship Force in their state. Rosalyn Carter served as Honorary Chairperson until 2002.

FF originally involved groups ranging from 150 to 400 private citizens, known as friendship ambassadors, traveling via chartered aircraft to the partner city where a group of the same size boarded to return to the original city, hence the terminology “Exchange,” the word we use still to refer to our travel programs. The visiting ambassadors were hosted in the homes of volunteer host families for a week, sharing everyday experiences and getting to know each other on a personal basis. The first FF experience involved 762 Ambassadors in a simultaneous exchange between Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

During its first five years, a few large two-way exchanges were conducted each year. In 1982, Friendship Force travel arrangements changed from charters to one-way “exchanges” on regularly scheduled airlines, allowing greater flexibility and a reduction of group size—first to 40-80 and later to 20-25. The change in format permitted a great expansion of the program worldwide. Instead of a few large exchanges each year, there are now 250-300 smaller exchanges.

While the size and number of exchanges has changed dramatically since 1977, the basic Friendship Force formula is the same, with visiting ambassadors spending a week in the home of a host family. While each exchange is now in just one direction, the participating ambassadors and hosts develop a shared understanding of each other’s culture so that a true cultural exchange takes place. In many cases, the friendships established during an exchange continue for many years, with follow-up visits through later Friendship Force exchanges or through private visits.

Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa, President of The Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, played an important role in the organization’s history. After being introduced to the Friendship Force, Mr. Sasakawa became convinced of the worthy goals of the program. Thanks to Mr. Sasakawa’s financial gifts in the mid 1980s, The Friendship Force was able to grow into a global network of independent chapters, which are called Friendship Force clubs. The clubs are organized and led by volunteers in more than 350 communities on six continents.

In 1985, the A.R.M.S. (American Russian Mutual Survival) program was implemented under the auspices of The Friendship Force. The endeavor encouraged the use of arms that embrace rather than arms that destroy. In May of that year a group of 10 Soviet citizens traveled to the U.S. to extend arms of friendship in Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. This was followed by a series of exchanges between the USA and the USSR, with thousands of Americans and Soviets participating. The success of the ARMS program demonstrated that the Friendship Force can be a powerful force for good in the world.

As a result of its initiatives between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Friendship Force was nominated in 1992 for The Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to its annual series of exchanges between established Friendship Force clubs, Friendship Force International (FFI) conducts a variety of specialized programs. These include the “discover” series designed to introduce Friendship Force members to new countries and cultures, humanitarian and educational exchanges, and Friendship Festivals that include participants from many countries.

Since its founding in 1977, The Friendship Force has brought together millions of people. Today we are active in 70 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of home hosting, or exchanges.

Friendship Force International is supported by membership, exchange fees, donations, and foundation grants.

FFI Mission

Building peace through friendship since 1977.



To promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people

Mutual Respect • Cultural Diversity • Cultural Exploration • Service

Each individual will make a contribution to global goodwill.
The Friendship Force worldwide network of clubs and individuals will overcome differences among people and nations.
By connecting the world, one friend at a time, we will create a world of friends that becomes a world of peace.

Changing the Way You See the World

Explore • Understand • Serve

Explore: We explore new countries and regions. We explore new cultures and new ways to connect across the barriers that separate us.

Understand: By sharing a home, meals, conversation and everyday experiences, people become friends, seeing beyond governments and borders into the heart of a country and its people. By combining home hospitality with cultural exploration, we reach a new level of understanding.

Serve: Exploration leads to understanding. Understanding leads to an acceptance of our common humanity and the desire to serve our global village—with words and actions.

Quick Facts

400 chartered clubs and programs in 70 countries on 6 continents with more than 18,000 members worldwide.

Friendship Force is a volunteer-driven organization. More than 1,500 volunteer leaders work more than 30,000 hours each year to promote the Friendship Force mission.

225,000 ambassadors and 750,000 hosts have participated in Friendship Force programs since 1977.

The headquarters office of FFI (Friendship Force International) is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The work of the central office staff is supplemented by additional part time staff in Atlanta and in other locations. The staff members are listed in alphabetical order with brief biographies as well as their main job responsibility and how to contact them.


Joy DiBenedetto

President and CEO

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+1 404-965-4335

Joy DiBenedetto is founder and former CEO of HUM: Human Unlimited Media, working to build the world’s first and only ‘all-nation’ content and information agency. An award-winning 20-year media veteran, she has covered every major global event in successively senior positions, from the studio and in the field; domestically and internationally; as a producer and manager.
Until March of 2008, she was the global vice president of network booking and research for the CNN News Group, where she oversaw daily and long-term guest coverage for CNN’s domestic and international news networks and platforms, managing a worldwide editorial staff. 

Prior to this, DiBenedetto served as director of network booking for CNN’s domestic networks.  While at CNN she developed and managed the Newsource affiliate guest booking service called “GuestSource,” created the first internet interview programming for CNN.COM, and worked to build CNN’s exclusive guest booking system.  Before joining CNN, she worked in Turner Broadcasting’s corporate finance division. She has also previously worked for CARE, the international humanitarian group, and as a caseworker handling senior citizens for New York City.
Her collective work throughout a professional career spans both the media industry and humanitarian interests, as reflected in a multitude of projects designed to bring both of these passions together. 
Throughout her career she has strived to elevate the importance of global understanding and to unite the world’s people. She pursued this goal with Turner Broadcasting, CNN and HUM by making positive change towards “closing the Geographic Gap” in media, as well as by serving at various humanitarian efforts with CARE, the Fugee’s Family and the United Nations, among other partners.
DiBenedetto believes strongly in the Friendship Force mission and in the signature program of home hospitality, which encourages personal friendships among global citizens. “This is an authentic message and method of worldwide cooperation that, in our data-driven digital age is often overlooked; and one which I am eager to help elevate and represent on behalf of the incredible mission and purpose of Friendship Force International,” DiBenedetto said.

She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology/audiology. In addition to being a recipient of a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I-duPont Columbia Broadcast News award, and a Jack Myers Media award for Innovation, she is also a Marshall Memorial fellow and a UN Foundation Global Health Press fellow who sits on numerous advisory and directorial boards. She often speaks publicly about the media industry, international business strategy, and on what unites people across the world.
DiBenedetto is a world trekker who often roller skates and bicycles to work and who has survived Dengue Fever.




Allison Lindsey

Educational Project Manager

Languages: English, German

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By the time she was seven years old, Allison Lindsey had lived in seven states – making her a perfect candidate for Friendship Force International! At age seven, Allison’s family decided to call the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn home. Later, she attended Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in family and child development. During her senior year of college she studied abroad at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England. That was her first experience traveling and living abroad, one that has turned out to be the first of many! She has now visited 22 countries and 31 states within the United States.

Allison first came to work at the Friendship Force in 1996 as a program coordinator, shortly after returning from Berlin, Germany, where she lived with a family and went to language school. She left the Friendship Force in 2000 to pursue work at a faith-based organization and worked there until her son was born in 2005. Even though she wasn’t working for the Friendship Force, the goals of the organization remained close to her heart.

In the fall of 2007, Allison returned to work at the Friendship Force, working part-time as the Educational Project Coordinator. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, participating in activities at her church and in her community, nurturing her budding interest in growing a vegetable garden and playing tennis.



Ana Smulski

Program Manager for Latin America / Network Administrator

Department of Program Services
Languages Spoken: Portuguese, Spanish & English

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Ana is originally from Brazil where she earned a B.S. in computer science. As a systems analyst, she worked for a supermarket chain and a credit card company. She then began working as a lieutenant for the Brazilian Army where she thought she was at the peak of her career; however, Ana came to the US in 2001 to participate in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Georgia Tech. She became fascinated with the diversity of cultures, languages, faces and ideas she encountered. Enchanted by the country, Ana has been living here since then. In her spare time, she likes hiking with her dog, enjoying nature, reading, movies and being with her family.




Elena McCarty

Program Manager for Russia and Eastern Europe

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Elena McCarty was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. When she was 10 years old, she fell in love with the English language while reading the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – especially the novels featuring Sherlock Holmes. She says her life path was decided the moment she discovered the famous detective: she attended the English magnet school and Moscow University of Foreign Languages, and she worked as an English teacher, as an Intourist interpreter for Greek- and English-speaking visitors, and as an English instructor in college. During the tumultuous years of the fall of the Soviet Union, she was hired to interpret and later to work in Sales and Marketing in the first Soviet-American joint venture in the hotel business. “I felt like a character in an adventure book.”  This undertaking was fascinating for Elena, as well as for other people working there, both Russian and American. One of the latter became her husband, resulting in Elena’s relocation to the United States in 1993.

Elena loves to explore and learn new things.  This desire for knowledge took Elena back to school in the Twin Cities, where she got her MBA in marketing.

Aside from studying she enjoys knitting, sewing, cooking, and playing golf. Her favorite pass time is to curl up with a book and one of her two black cats.


Ebony Rogers

Director of Finance and Administration

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Ebony Jamela Rogers joined Friendship Force International in January 2013.  An alumna of Oglethorpe University, Ebony graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.  During her time at Oglethorpe, Ebony completed internships with the City of Savannah, Georgia and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.  After earning her undergraduate degree, Ebony worked for 2 ½ years as a staff accountant with an Atlanta-based company before accepting the Senior Accountant position with FFI.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Ebony now resides in Atlanta.  She is currently pursuing CPA designation, with the intention of becoming a license Certified Public Accountant within the next year.  In her spare time, Ebony enjoys attending the ballet and opera, viewing new artwork at exhibits throughout the city, and crocheting afghans in the comfort of her home. 




Jillian Walters

Communications Manager

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Jillian graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, with a degree in English. She studied abroad in both Guatemala and England, where she spent three months studying at Oxford University. She is excited to join FFI in a position that combines her passions for good communication and intercultural understanding.


Maggie Smith

Communications Coordinator/ Graphic Design

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Maggie graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication. She enjoys designing, writing, and creating interesting things. Maggie has interned with a couple advertising companies in the Atlanta area and hopes to bring her passion for creativity and branding to the forefront with Friendship Force.

Maggie was born and raised in Atlanta, though her parents are originally from New Jersey and Ohio. She has been fortunate enough to have many opportunities to travel the world with her family. Maggie is an avid animal lover and spent a year after college volunteering at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility. Her other passions include digital drawing, all things Disney, treasure hunting at thrift stores, and adding to her expansive movie collection.




Laura Romero

Program Manager for Latin America

Department of Program Services
Languages spoken: Spanish, English

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Laura was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia, when she was six years old. She graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in International Economics and Modern Language. While in school, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and traveled to Paris, France. Her love of traveling and cultural understanding is what drew her to the Friendship Force. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and she enjoys getting to use both languages as she works with Latin American club leaders to help them share their culture with the world.


Noriko Kanamoto

Program Manager for Japan

Department of Program Services
Languages: Japanese, English

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Japan: 81 3-5802-0351

Noriko Kanamoto graduated from the Japan Women’s University in Japan School of Humanities. She majored in Japanese language and literature and studied teaching Japanese as a second language. After graduating, she worked at the Department of International Travel at Hankyu International Co. and she provided tour services arranging hotel accommodation, bus transportation, etc. for Japanese tours sponsored by the company.

Noriko planned popular European tours and designed advertising leaflets and pamphlets for those excursions. She also joined tours in Germany, the UK, Austria and Switzerland.  After leaving Hankyu she has worked at Tokyo University as a secretary for ten years, supporting professors with foreign exchange students.  Noriko has also traveled to the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Taiwan, Saipan and Guam.

Having experience providing services for people and traveling abroad, Noriko enjoys speaking with a variety of people and making friends across barriers all over the world.

She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and lives in Mitaka City with her family, near Inokashira Park, known for its beautiful cherry blossoms.  Noriko enjoys taking walks in the park with her family and taking pictures of nature and architecture.




Matthew Nidek

Program Manager for Australia and New Zealand

Department of Program Services

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Matthew was born in Toledo, Ohio, USA, and moved with his family to Ludlow, Vermont, when he was nine years old.  He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in music education.  He taught and performed music in New York City and Portland, Oregon, before moving to Australia and New Zealand in 2004.  Matthew became a permanent resident of New Zealand in 2006 and earned a postgraduate certificate in public policy from Victoria University of Wellington in 2010.  He has traveled extensively throughout the South Pacific as well as Europe, China and North America.  Matthew returned to the US early in 2011 and is thrilled to be at FFI to share his passions for travel, cultural understanding and community service.




Mary Mwambay

Program Manager for Canada, Africa and Western Europe

Department of Program Services
Languages: French, English

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Mary Mwambay comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a daughter of a Methodist minister, Mary first came to America as a baby with her parents who came as missionaries. After seven years, they returned to Congo where she grew up and completed her education with a degree in accounting and business administration.

Mary’s ability to speak English, French and Swahili on top of four African languages landed her a job with the airlines: she worked as an administrative assistant and ground hostess at Zambia Airways in Lubumbashi, Congo, and at Air Zaire in Johannesburg, South Africa. Later, Mary accepted the position of sales manager for Shabair, a private airline.

Mary has always lived in Atlanta since moving to the United States in 1994 with her husband and four daughters. She has been actively involved in community activities, first as an event coordinator for Nouvelle Jerusalem Church of God, one of the local African French speaking churches, then as a member of the organizing committee for the Congolese Community of Atlanta (COCOMATL). This association was recently founded with the purpose of addressing the needs of the Congolese living in Atlanta. Mary also participates in the children’s council meetings at Winter Chapel United Methodist Church, her home church.

Mary comes to FFI after 5 years with Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations, where she worked in the claims department as a support service technician. Mary sees Friendship Force as the ultimate opportunity to put her cross-cultural, international and interpersonal skills to good use.




Maryam Jordan

Program Manager for Asia

Department of Program Services

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Maryam Jordan graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  She majored in Humanities in International Affairs with a focus on Arab Studies. During her time at the university she did a study abroad program at the American University in Cairo in Egypt. 

After graduating, she moved to Osaka, Japan, to participate in the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program teaching English as a Second Language to Japanese high school students.  While Maryam lived in Osaka for three years she was able to travel in the region and learned a great deal about the peoples and cultures of Asia.

Having always been fascinated by various cultures and international travel, she enjoys working with people from all over the world and promoting the mission of Friendship Force International.  Over the years, she has lived and traveled overseas and made meaningful and long-lasting friendships.

Maryam was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, in the USA and has traveled to other countries including Jordan, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In her spare time she enjoys social media and loves spending quality time with her family.




Pallie Savoie

Conference Director

Department of Program Services
Languages Spoken: English, Spanish

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Pallie attended the University of Georgia and earned bachelor’s degrees in speech communication and Spanish. As a student, she participated in study abroad programs to Granada, Spain and Oaxaca, Mexico, where she realized her love for experiencing different cultures through homestays with local families. Upon completing her education at the University of Georgia, she attended Vanderbilt University where she earned a master’s degree in community development action.


Kristin Harrison

Exchange Matching and Programming Manager

Department of Program Services

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When Kristin was young, her family traveled to Maracaibo, Venezuela on an FFI exchange from Des Moines, Iowa.  She still has fond memories of seeing her first bullfight, taking a boat tour of the oil fields and dining with dignitaries. She believes that her love of travel started with Friendship Force.

Kristin attended Northwestern University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.  She worked for several years as an IT consultant for a retail software company. As a consultant, she travelled extensively across the US and abroad. She is very excited about being a member of the dynamic staff at Friendship Force International and helping our dedicated volunteers continue to create memorable exchanges.

Kristin has lived in Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, and is a Midwesterner through and through. She currently lives in Marietta, GA with her husband and two children.

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.

Cecile Latour


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.

Robert Duncan


Vice Chair - Friendship Force of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Bob, fondly known as Mardi Gras Bob, comes to the board from our Baton Rouge club. Since joining FFI in 2004 he has served as club president,  vice president and secretary , incoming and outgoing ED as well as the Field Representative for the SW region.  In 2013 he was the chairman for FF ’ S largest and most successful International Conference. Bob spent most of his career working with the LA Department of Corrections as a Planning Officer and Administrator with Juvenile Probation and Parole.  Bob was recently elected as the Boards Vice Chair.

Loes Epping van den Bosch


Secretary - Friendship Force of Netherlands East

Loes Epping van den Bosch has been a member of the Friendship Force since 1986, when she joined the Friendship Force of Arnhem, and since 2002 has been a member of the Friendship Force of (Zutphen) Netherlands East. She has filled many leadership positions and is currently helping organize a cycling exchange to the Netherlands for 2013. She also serves as a field representative working with the clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Loes has had a very active career in marketing, working with Shell International, Unilever and Dutch Telecom. She and her husband Wil travel widely throughout Europe as well as other regions of the world.

Jack Mullen


Treasurer - 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.

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.

Cinda Clark


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.

Jyotsna (Jo) Custead


Friendship Force of Saskatoon, Canada

Jyotsna (Jo) Custead is a member of the Friendship Force of the Saskatoon, Canada. Jo is a passionate and committed civic leader, enjoying a new phase of life following retirement supporting and leading organizations that are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally. She has extensive board experience, having been Chair of United Way Saskatoon and Area, YWCA, Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium and various other non profit organizations.  Jo has traveled widely throughout most regions of the world. 

Edward Ekis


Friendship Force of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Ed Ekis has been an active member of Friendship Force Chicago since 2006, is a retired executive of both Nalco Chemical Company and Silliker Merieux of France, and now owns a small consulting company and e-commerce business.  He has lived in, worked in, or traveled within 42 countries and all 50 U.S. states, and believes strongly in the purpose and greater potential of Friendship Force International to influence global peace and cooperation among nations.  He has been married to his bride Nancy for 44 years, has three children, a son and daughter in law, and five wonderful grandchildren.

Kurt Haefeli


Friendship Force of Solothurn, Switzerland

A former university professor called a `visionary and agent of change in the most positive way’.

Dave Kalan


Friendship Force of Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dave Kalan joined The Friendship Force in 1990 and since then has held many leadership roles, most recently as Field Rep for the Midwest U.S. Dave has been a club president (two different terms), club vice-president, club treasurer, regional conference chairperson and has led 10 exchanges as Exchange Director.

Dave was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in and that is where he currently makes his home. He has biomedical engineering degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University.

Dave spent his entire 21 year professional career at S.C. Johnson Wax, a multinational consumer products company, and retired in 2000. As Global Business Applications Manager for Safety/Health/Environment, his group supported offices around the world, in particular the USA, London, Amsterdam and Sydney. Dave’s daily interaction and travel to these locations gave him an awareness of the importance of understanding culture in business interactions. While working, Dave led an employee volunteer group which organized short-term volunteer projects to get employees and their family’s active in the community.

In addition to traveling, Dave enjoys attending dance, theater and musical performances.

Yury Kazantsev


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.

Simone Lanzoni


Friendship Force of Ribeirao Preto, Brazil

Simone is a former lawyer and Portuguese language teacher for teenagers and young adults. Currently, she is a partner and Personnel Management Director of the company TESE Prime – Language Assessment and Educational Services. In her spare time, Simone works on the implementation and maintenance of a year-round educational campaign called “Donate Knowledge”, whose goal is to collect books and redistribute them to schools in poor communities. She also works to advise, inform and support young people who want to start a post-graduation course in public universities.She also serves as the current President of Friendship Force – Ribeirao Preto Club.

Ramona McGee


Friendship Force of Sarasota, Florida, USA

Ramona McGee has been a member Friendship Force of Sarasota since 1991.  She is a retired accountant, having spent the last 15 years of her career as a Trust Administrator in Banking.  Her love of International friendships were inspired by nine years living abroad due to her husband’s employment, residing in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.  Ramona has served as president, vice- president and treasurer for the FF of Sarasota, as well as inbound and outbound exchange director various times and field representative for the Florida Clubs.

Ivan Ng


Friendship Force of Singapore

As a university student, Ng founded the Nanyang, Singapore Friendship Force club. He has spent the past 10 years working in the consumer goods industry for companies including Proctor & Gamble in 30 countries across Asia in Business Development and Marketing.

Fred Opondo


Friendship Force of Nairobi, Kenya

My name is Fred Opondo am an architect by profession. I have worked for the City council of Nairobi and am an immediate former president of Friendship Force of Nairobi. Now a member of executive committee of our chapter (FF Nairobi) helped organize a successful African regional conference in 2011 in Nairobi which was also known as leadership conference and participated in the organization of outbound and inbound exchanges. Fred has lived in 3 countries which makes him well suited to FFI’s growth plans in Africa.



Promouvoir une vision planétaire du monde au-delà des barrières qui séparent
les personnes

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
compréhension mutuelle.

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.

Mission (Japanese)

使 命
価 値
相互理解 • 文化の多様性 • 文化の探検 • 相互援助
• 誰もが世界的に善意の貢献をします
• フレンドシップフォースのクラブや個人の世界規模ネットワークは、人々や
• 世界と繋がることで、一度に一人の友人を創造していくことは、世界の平和
発見 • 文化理解 • 相互援助
発 見:私たちは新しい国々や地域を発見していきます。私たちは新しい文化と、

Mission (Portuguese)


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

Mission (Spanish)


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

Mission (Russian)

Наша миссия

Содействовать всеобщему пониманию невзирая на барьеры, разделяющие

Наши ценности
Взаимоуважение • Культурное многообразие • Исследование
других культур • Помощь

Наше видение
• 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.

Исследование ведёт к пониманию. Понимание ведёт к
принятию нашей общей человечности