Friendship Force members and clubs around the world are doing spectacular work all the time!
Look here for news, stories and information on upcoming FFI events worldwide.
As 2017 concludes, we want to thank our generous donors and contributors for supporting Friendship Force in this milestone anniversary year, in which we launched our 40th Anniversary Campaign!
- On Giving Tuesday, November 28, we surpassed our goal of $7,000, all of which went towards supporting the 40th Anniversary Campaign!
- Jeremi continued his blog post series about the Campaign, outlining how one of the initiatives supports Engagement of Future Leaders.
- Learn more about the specific programs your donations will support, including providing scholarships for Filipino students to participate in an upcoming Friendship Force Journey.
- You can contribute to a more peaceful world through your support of the 40th Anniversary Campaign.
- All information about the Campaign, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions, can be found in the Member Resources section of our website under “Support Our Mission.”
Finish 2017 by donating to help expand our mission of friendship and understanding to more people around the world!
Editor’s Note: Ambassador Coordinator, Vicki Coulson Vance, shared this glowing report from this Global Journey in September and October, where 19 ambassadors from Canada, Australia, and the U.S. were hosted by FF Nor Peru, exploring this beautiful country and culture.
This Journey was one of the best that I have participated in during my eighteen years of leading global exchanges.
I found the people of the Nor Peru club to be warm, generous, friendly, outgoing and eager to share the best of their culture with us.
Jaime Carrill, Host Coordinator and Club President, planned a full program of activities, so our days and evenings were packed with very little down time. The club was determined to show us everything we would have seen at their Festival of Spring. Our homestay dates were planned with the festival in mind, but the organizers changed the date well after our plans were finalized. We had numerous group meals and with each one we had musicians and dancers, along with wonderful food. We rode in tuk tuks (moto-taxis) to the local huacas, met some officials of Moche city where we visited their market, museum, and murals, plus had a blast at karaoke and cocktails night. We went to beach towns to see the reed canoes, walk along the beaches, eat delicious ceviche, and shop the local handicraft markets.
The Nor Peru club organized an excellent homestay for us, even though they were departing on their own outbound Journey five days after our departure. Each female ambassador received a woven Peruvian purse upon arrival, while everyone was given small gifts of pisco liqueur at the farewell party.
Our tour of the Southern Andes was very well-organized and gave us a deeper insight into the Inca culture and those people before the Incas. Of course, our highlight was Machu Picchu, which was a dream come true for many of us.
The altitude was certainly challenging for all, except the California couple who live in the mountains. Everyone except those two were taking the altitude sickness medication, but a few people really felt the effects and had difficulty at many sites. This was the most physically challenging of all the Journeys that I have led, since we were at altitudes of 16,000+ with steps and more steps at every turn.
I highly commend the Nor Peru club for giving us a wonderful homestay and appreciate all of Martha’s work in organizing a superb tour of the Andes. This was an unforgettable experience!
– Ambassador Coordinator, Vicki Coulson Vance
Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Chuck Goldfarb of Friendship Force National Capital Area, USA, for this article on his experience leading this Discover Philippines Journey in October 2017.
Highlights of a Friendship Force Philippines Journey:
- Seven ambassadors from four countries
- The mile-high city of Baguio, with pine-covered mountain tops and houses seemingly stacked one upon another on every slope
- The lowlands city of Naga, surrounded by rice paddies and sporting a volcano with hot springs and waterfalls
- A two-day side trip for island-hopping to isolated beaches
- Wonderful hosts in two newly-forming clubs who introduced ambassadors to local culture and daily life in their communities
- As a special bonus, a new Friendship Force model – all the day hosting in Naga was performed by students in the Ateneo de Naga University’s Junior Eagles service club
Arriving from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, we converged upon the charming White Knight Hotel in Intramuros, the historic Spanish colonial section of Manila. We had two days to overcome jet lag, get to know one another, explore the city’s historic neighborhoods and markets, and begin to understand the relationship between the nation’s capital and dominant city and the provinces we would be exploring. The all-day, every-day traffic jams in Manila preclude establishment of a Friendship Force club there. But the city’s vibrant museums introduced us to the nation’s pre-colonial, colonial, independence, World War, and more recent eras, and showcased the country’s art, culture, and diversity. At a beautiful and delicious luncheon buffet at Barbara’s – a recreated colonial era restaurant – musicians came to our table to play songs from our respective countries, and we all got up to dance. Alas, we also were introduced to Manila’s extremes of poverty and wealth.
Our Baguio hosts sent a van and driver to take us on the six-hour ride to their mountain city. The rare highway led to an amazing mountain road, whose hairpin turns eventually brought us to a church hall where we were greeted by a canvas sign welcoming each of us by name, a stirring performance of traditional Ilocos dances, a great potluck dinner – and a typhoon. We learned about Baguio’s history, received all the details for our next five days, and met our home hosts. Then we wandered into the storm for two days with our hosts and their extended families, many of whom already had their Christmas decorations set up. I can now tell you a lot about Sprint cell phone service since several of my host’s family members work at the Sprint call center that serves the entire English-speaking world.
Each of us has tales of rain and wind whipping the tin roofs on our host homes and of traversing mountain roads through the fog to “see” the sights. Despite lots of water falling from the skies, some older neighborhoods are not served by water pipes, so water is delivered by large trucks that fill up large tanks next to each house. After 24 hours, the rain relented, and after another 24 hours the sun came out. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the roads all followed the tops of ridges and there were colorful houses up and down all the mountains.
We explored the architecturally stunning BenCab Museum, built by a renowned local artist to showcase his works and his collection of traditional Ilocos carvings, which was located on a narrow ridge road with wood-carving studios teetering atop the sharp declines. The emotional high point of our stay was a visit to a local school and home for visually impaired children, whose sweet voices will stay with us forever.
We then took to the road for two days with our fabulous driver Jesse, chaperoned by Bernadette (Bernie) and Dan Galang, who head the Baguio club, to explore other parts of the Ilocos region. The roads zigzag in the mountains and are filled with pedaled vehicles in the lowlands, so the ride to the preserved Spanish colonial town of Vigan is long. We broke it up with an amazing uphill jeepney ride to a downhill path through a forest and rice paddies to Tangadan Falls. Keith, another ambassador, and I immediately dove into the beautiful pool below the falls. The uphill walk back to the jeepney, accompanied by a local dog and past a pool table, was quite challenging. After an evening and morning in Vigan, we continued north to Laoag, for a flight back to Manila. Along the way we discovered the amazing Paoay church, completed in 1710, and then Paula, Kayoko, and I took a wonderful dune buggy ride that surely would not meet safety standards back home. The ride to Laoag took us through Ferdinand Marcos’ home province, and it was clear that the dictator had channeled lots of government funds in that direction.
After overnighting at a hotel near the Manila airport, we flew to Naga for our second home stay. We were greeted by Naga club leader Leo Borras and a group of students from the Ateneo Junior Eagles, who had been waiting two hours for our delayed airplane.
It was final exam week and many of the students had not yet completed their exams, but they chose to spend their scarce free time with us.
They brought us by jeepney to a private room in a restaurant for a festive welcome dinner, introduction to our home and day hosts, and a brief explanation of the next week – three nights of home hosting, two nights in a Naga hotel, and two nights at a small resort on the beach in Caramoan. The students had a brilliant ice breaker, asking each of the seven ambassadors to show off a dance move, demonstrating for us the current Filipino dance craze, and then putting all the steps together and pulling everyone onto the dance floor to perform this wild new creation.
For three days, we explored in and around Naga, led by the students – more than 20 helped out at one time or another, some for multiple days. The first morning, an Ateneo professor gave a fascinating presentation on the culture and history of Bicol (Naga’s region). We toured the campus, including a building used by the Japanese to imprison and torture Filipinos during World War II. We headed out of town to Malabsay Falls near the base of volcanic Mount Isarog and then rested at nearby Panicuasan hot springs. At the falls, Keith and I again dove right in, Ambassador Paula joined us, and even Kayoko couldn’t resist ultimately. At the hot springs, we came across a group of young men similarly relaxing; they were seminary students who had just completed their final exams.
That evening I briefly left my home hosts to visit the family that had hosted me two years earlier when I had joined Colin and Janet Ridge on an exploratory visit to Naga, but I also got up early the next morning to walk with my hosts through their neighborhood. Most of their neighbors were poor; they had built basic houses on small plots of land that had been given to them, but many did not have enough money to pay the elementary school fees for their children. There were fruit, vegetable, meat, and fish stalls, and on that Sunday morning locals were supplementing their meager incomes by selling vegetables that they had grown in their tiny gardens. Every home was also surrounded by flowers.
During their freshman year, all students at the Ateneo de Naga are required to participate in an “immersion” program that includes a three-day homestay with a poor family, and must meet with their advisors each semester to discuss how they will apply their skills to help the poor.
The Junior Eagles do so by volunteering with several community-based organizations. They introduced us to the residents of the local Habitat for Humanity community, which houses 100 families and continues to grow. Then they brought us by jeepney and boat to Punta Tarawal, a very poor village that is accessible only by water. The Ateneo Juniors have created the award-winning TARPBAG program that makes use of tarpaulin scraps to fabricate book bags for the village elementary school children. We met with the children and Warren taught them how to “do the hokey pokey.”
We departed early the next morning for two days in Caramoan, traveling by van and boat. The first afternoon, only three ambassadors – along with our fabulous Ateneo guides, Jade, Anne, and Faham – chose to brave the high seas from an earlier rain in pursuit of island-hopping. Still, the rain was gone, the air was warm, and the islands we visited were quite magical, with us frequently being the only ones at a beach. The next day the water was calmer, everyone joined the trip, we took off from the local beach and explored several more islands. On one island, Keith joined Jade, Anne, Faham, and our guide to climb steep rocks up to a lagoon overlooking the beach. All agreed it had been a challenging climb. The rest of us lazed and swam on the beach.
Our return to Naga was without surprises, and we had a few hours of rest before getting back into a van for a ride to our farewell dinner, at the home of a recent Junior Eagle alumna. With their final exams behind them, more than 20 students joined us and our home hosts for this final celebration of our new friendships. The students again put on a brilliant program, with traditional and contemporary dances, and lots of photos.
Cancellation of three consecutive flights out of Naga made connections in Manila rather difficult, but all ambassadors eventually made it safely home, with the most wonderful memories of the Philippines and incredible new friendships across cultures and generations.
Read here about how the “Engage Future Leaders” initiative of our 40th Anniversary Campaign will support scholarships for some of these Filipino students to travel on an upcoming Friendship Force Journey!
Friendship Force International wants to inform our members – especially our U.S. members and friends – of some upcoming changes to identification requirements for boarding airplanes, trains, and cruise lines in the United States.
Certain states have not yet met the new ID requirements, and as of January 2018, passengers in those states will have difficulty traveling without an accepted ID, such as a passport.
Some states whose IDs do not fit these new standards have been applying for and obtaining waivers or extensions. Many states have received extensions beyond January, but typically not more than six months. This trend of providing exceptions will most likely not continue much longer, since it has already lasted more than two years.
Please consult this helpful document published by the Transportation Security Administration for additional details, including links to the status of each state: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/resources/realid_factsheet.pdf
All U.S. travelers should be prepared for their IDs to be challenged, even in states with waivers, extensions, or grace periods. Older drivers’ licenses in particular will be challenged in some states, so it is suggested that all U.S. travelers make sure they have U.S. government-issued IDs/passports, even when traveling domestically, to ensure they do not encounter any issues during this time period.
Editor’s Note: FF Greater Des Moines, Iowa, USA, celebrated their 40th Anniversary in October 2017, with many VIPs and guests of honor in attendance, including FFI CEO Jeremi Snook. Thanks to FF Des Moines and especially Adrienne Moen for the story and photos!
The 40th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, October 29, was a big hit with our members and guests. Chairs Adrienne Moen and Nancy Lundstrom organized a lovely late afternoon party that was attended by current and past members, potential members, friends, and leaders from other Midwest clubs, incoming Midwest Regional Rep Dale Moore, and FFI President CEO, Jeremi Snook. Mike Pace, a well-recognized TV and radio personality, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event.
Mike did a superb job of setting the historic tone of the evening by reading a letter from former Governor Robert Ray who founded The Friendship Force in Iowa. Irish step dancers from Ames and The Mariachi band from W. Des Moines book-ended the entertainment as a tribute to our first (1977) and most recent (2017) international Journeys. Beautiful tri-fold displays of many Journeys were created by several Journey Coordinators, and the large silent auction, which benefited the FFGDM Scholarship Fund, exceeded our expectations. Thanks to Shelley Bain, our President, for organizing the latter.
For many, one of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Wayne Smith Medal to Past President and outgoing Regional Field Representative Adrienne Moen. Earlier this fall, the local Board of Directors, for the first time in its 40-year club history, voted to honor Adrienne for her undaunted promotion of Friendship Force in our community. Adrienne joined the club at a time when her leadership was greatly needed; when she pushed the Board and members to better the club—she led by example. Thank you, Adrienne, for your successful years of service to FFGDM.
We all were so pleased and grateful to have Jeremi Snook, our FFI President/CEO, join us on this historical occasion. Jeremi was our keynote speaker who challenged the audience with his focus on diverse thinking and analogies which was an inspiration to all. We are reminded of the “big picture” as we navigate through life and cross many unexpected paths. Since Des Moines was the first club in 1977 to conduct a Journey after Atlanta with England, it was so appropriate that our CEO join us; so a huge thank you to Jeremi Snook for traveling to our city.
A heartfelt thank you also to all members and community sponsors for support in our efforts to promote The Friendship Force before, during, and after the event with dollars, time, and media promotion. We are also excited to welcome several new members who look forward to spreading the mission of breaking down the barriers that separate people.
We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving…
With a gentle uncoordinated side-to-side sway, twenty-eight of my elementary school classmates and I belted out the now famous words to Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie’s hit song, We Are the World. Mrs. Welch’s ad-hoc choir didn’t have a clue the real meaning of this song or the impact this fastest-selling American pop single would have on the world. It certainly didn’t register to any of us that Wayne, who was discreetly picking his nose in the corner, might someday be an accountant in a major firm, or Jennifer with glitter on her face might become a school dean, or Justin who sang like a sick Rhino would leave New Hampshire for Los Angeles to become a famous musician. Instead, our eyes were fixated on the second-hand swinging around the school clock on the wall above Mrs. Welch’s head waiting for the lunch bell to ring. Yet, almost 30 years later, Wayne, Jennifer, and Justin are successful in their careers, and I found my way to leading this incredible organization.
The significance of both that song and that moment in time is only clearer now when we pause and reflect. The truth is, the process of growing from young to old, from being a follower to a leader, or from seeing the world through our elders’ eyes to seeing the world through our own eyes, is a fluid process. There is no formal passing of the baton in these experiences. It just happens. But at some point, Wayne said, “I want to be an accountant,” and Jennifer said, “I want to go into education.” How does this happen? While I am grossly under-qualified to unpack the psychology of “why we do what we do,” Don DeLillo, in his 1985 book (yes, another ‘80s reference), White Noise, suggested that we are nothing more than the accumulation of our experiences. Many have argued that we are much more than this, but we can’t disregard his main point that every experience can impact the course of our lives. This is largely why parents and educators are so keen to expose young people, who have their whole lives ahead of them, to as many options as possible.
During our 40th Anniversary Celebration in Manchester this past August, we shared numerous stories about how young people, through special Journeys, participating in hosting with their parents, or experiencing Friendship Force in some other way, have been so influenced by their experiences that they joined the organization later in life. Because of their encounters as a young person with the Friendship Force, they eventually acted on a seed planted to join or start a new club in their community. Maybe some of you were swaying in an ad-hoc choir at one point in your life thinking about how we need to create a brighter place, and someone said, “Hey, have you checked out the Friendship Force?” It is quite possible that many of my own life’s ambitions are rooted in that experience in Mrs. Welch’s class. An experience that took root and grew later in life when I realized it was more than just 28 of us — it was millions of us united in creating a better world for you and me.
You might be saying, “Okay, I get it, our past can impact our future, so what does that have to do with Friendship Force?”
Simply put, while the core of our organization remains steadfast in supporting and building new clubs around the world, it does not preclude us from planting seeds for future Friendship Force members today. In fact, we must! According to the Pew Research Center, on the heels of the Baby Boomer and Generation X (my generation) is the largest living generation in history, the Millennials. By 2028, they will be the new generation of world leaders. For the sake of long-term mission prosperity, it is in our best interest to invite them today to have an experience that might blossom into future engagement with our organization.
But this is more than just investing in future members. The part of the campaign oriented around engaging future leaders is also about cultivating aspiring Friendship Force club leaders, Journey Ambassadors and Host Coordinators RIGHT NOW! Today, there are hundreds of Friendship Force members who are eager to invest their knowledge, experience, and skills into Friendship Force and are willing to take a position on the front lines of mission development. This means taking 40 years of experience and hundreds of pages of training materials that have been created by many of our clubs, to deliver a consolidated, organized, multilingual library of courses and materials to support ongoing leadership development efforts around the world.
Engaging future leaders is more than just planting seeds for the future, it is also about nurturing the plants we have today.
A few years ago, I saw a remix of We Are the World that was done for Haiti. With over 210,000,000 views on YouTube, it is likely you have seen it. There is no doubt this updated version will deputize a new generation of swaying, wide-eyed young people with the idea that they can “make the world a brighter place.” Before long, they, too, will pause and reflect on where they are in their lives and consider the impact they want to leave on the world. And before too long, they will consider the seeds that have been planted along the way. Will Friendship Force grow to be a part of their Journey? Let’s hope so!
Want to know how your 40th Anniversary Campaign donations can help develop global citizens and future leaders in Friendship Force? Read here about how the “Engage Future Leaders” initiative of the campaign will support scholarships for Filipino students to travel on an upcoming Friendship Force Journey!
Update: We did it! 70 donors from 8 different countries donated $7,283, surpassing our #GivingTuesday goal!
Thank you to those who donated, posted on social media, and cheered us on Tuesday, November 28 – you helped make our goal a reality! We truly appreciate each and every one of you and your dedication to creating a more peaceful world through Friendship Force.
Friendship Force has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Atlanta-based FFI last participated in Georgia Gives Day in 2015, a movement that has now combined with the global #GivingTuesday initiative. Our goal is to raise $7000 in this global, day-long effort on Tuesday, November 28, with all donations going towards our 40th Anniversary Campaign, as we work towards creating a friendlier and more peaceful world.
#GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their communities and world by giving back to the organizations and causes they support.
In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a tremendously broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness.
If you are interested in becoming part of Friendship Force’s #GivingTuesday initiative, please visit our GAgives on #GivingTuesday profile page here and be sure to donate on Tuesday, November 28, with all gifts going towards our 40th Anniversary Campaign.
FFI President and CEO Jeremi Snook has personally pledged a gift of $1,000 to GAgives on Giving Tuesday and Georgia Gives Day in order to encourage our members, leaders, friends, and supporters around the world to join in this global celebration of giving.
“This wonderful effort has raised more than $13.6 million for Georgia non-profits since it was begun in 2012, and one can only imagine the good those funds have done. You also must wonder about the needs that sadly would have gone unmet if this movement did not exist,” said Snook. “Here is our opportunity to bring about positive change, to make a difference even in a small way, by giving whatever we can.”
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 28, and stay tuned to the Friendship Force Facebook page, Twitter feed, and your email inbox for more updates!
Not on our mailing list? Join here!
Are you a Friendship Force member with an interest in photography? We are looking for members worldwide with an interest in taking and sharing photos and improving their photography skills to form Club Clusters. No professional training required!
Whether you are a novice or advanced photographer with a camera phone, point and shoot, or DSLR, start a Photography Club Cluster within your club! It takes only 3 amateur photographers to start a Club Cluster.
With organizational structure, curriculum support, and recognition from FFI and your Field Representatives, you will…
- Go on Challenge Assignments
- Grow Your Skills
- Produce Fabulous Photos
- Have Fun and Nurture Friendships!
Have 3 people interested? Sign up here: http://bit.ly/FFIphoto
Need more members in your club to form a cluster? Share this flyer with them!
View our Frequently Asked Questions document here for additional information about the Photography Club Clusters!
Friendship Force partnership with Global Green and Peace Boat US brings 3 groups together to promote world understanding
ATLANTA, GA, USA — The leadership of Friendship Force International, Global Green and Peace Boat US have agreed to combine efforts to advance global awareness of the critical need for citizen engagement to promote environmental sustainability, peace, understanding, friendship and to address other urgent global causes.
“Imagine the power for positive change that such an alliance can apply to help find solutions for our planet’s most serious challenges, most of which can be addressed and even solved by international cooperation created through friendship initiatives,” said Jeremi Snook, President and CEO of Atlanta-based Friendship Force International.
Snook said the coordinated campaign will bring together people and groups from an array of nations and cultures to share diverse perspectives and seek unity of purpose on the pressing issues facing humankind that affect the future of the planet.
The collaboration with Global Green and Peace Boat US is an outcome of Friendship Force’s stated strategy to forge partnerships with organizations aligned with its historic mission to promote understanding across the barriers that separate people.
The partners will be formalizing plans for mutual strategic cooperation in 2018, Snook said, with each organization leveraging its worldwide networks, public education initiatives, financial resources, and personnel to achieve common objectives.
“One of the most exciting and promising proposals is for members of Friendship Force and Global Green, along with other similarly-focused organizations, to travel around the world on Peace Boat to ignite a global citizen movement for our shared objectives of positive change,” said Snook.
“Global Green’s focus is to partner with like-minded organizations that share our vision of making this world a more peaceful and sustainable place,” said William Bridge, Chief Operating Officer at Global Green. “Our common values that include helping people, places and a planet in need will be brought to life during these incredible journeys where travelers will make life-long friends while discovering new perspectives and collaborating to build peaceful and sustainable communities around the world.”
Declared Emilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US: “We look forward to working with Friendship Force International and Global Green to create awareness and initiate action to inspire positive social change in the world as we travel to more than 100 countries annually on our Global Voyages with Peace Boat.”
ABOUT FRIENDSHIP FORCE INTERNATIONAL
With more than 15,000 people involved in Friendship Force International in more than 60 countries worldwide, FFI provides opportunities to experience new adventures and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017, Friendship Force has brought together more than 1 million people in homestay and cultural immersion experiences that have helped to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people.
To learn more about how Friendship Force International can enrich your life, please visit http://www.friendshipforce.org/
ABOUT GLOBAL GREEN
Global Green is dedicated to helping the people, the places, and the planet in need through catalytic projects, transformative policy, and cutting-edge research. Global Green’s signature programs include greening affordable housing, schools, neighborhoods, and cities across the United States through its four office locations: Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY, Washington, D.C.; and New Orleans, LA.
ABOUT PEACE BOAT US
Peace Boat US works to build a culture of peace around the world by connecting people across borders and creating opportunities for learning, activism and cooperation. Peace Boat US achieves this through programs in which people from the US and around the world participate in voyages onboard the Peace Boat, the organization’s Japan-based partner organization and one of the most unique and creative peace-building initiatives in the world.
Editor’s Note: Our first eNewsletter Club of the Quarter is a joint honor, featuring FF of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley and FF Columbia Cascade, USA, with their fantastic program and effort in hosting an eclipse-themed Journey in August 2017. Thanks to members Marilyn Peterson and Rita Powell for writing the story about the adventure below!
Moonfall Over Oregon: A Global Journey
Hosted by the Friendship Force of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley and the Columbia Cascade Friendship Force club
August 16-25, 2017
What began as a way to share the Great American Solar Eclipse with the world turned into an adventure for the planners as well due to the large number of anticipated visitors to Oregon for the 2017 eclipse. Every event planned by Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley Host Coordinators, Marilyn Peterson, Mary Ellen Lind, and Dennis Murphy had to be changed in some respect, whether it was the time, date, or even menu. Nineteen ambassadors from several US states and Canada participated in this Journey, arriving on August 16, and staying in the Salem/Corvallis/Albany, Oregon area until the day of the eclipse.
During the Journey, the ambassadors experienced both the urban and the rural Oregon. Tony Farque, Forest Service Archaeologist, led a hike to visit petroglyphs and members of the Kalapuya tribe shared the art of stone knapping.
A visit to the Thyme Garden near Alsea, Oregon included a guided tramp in the herb garden and the fish restoration area. Salmon and Steelheadnow spawn in the stream on the property. A progressive dinner allowed the guests to meet more club members and visit different homes.
About two months before the eclipse date, August 21, the state emergency services, the media, and other governmental agencies became increasingly concerned about the anticipated 1 or so million people coming to Oregon (population about 4 million), confined to a 65 mile wide stripe (path of totality) across the state. Concerns about traffic, possible cell or power outages, and wildfires caused both clubs to reconsider the Journey’s plans. When we tried to get a second portable toilet for our group’s eclipse party and were unable to do so, we decided to change the plans.
Why not have a sleepover the night before the eclipse so no one has to travel on the morning of the eclipse to our viewing site? Ted and Rita Powell’s home was the perfect viewing and sleepover site. Tents were pitched, the equipment barn and living room floor became the slumber party venue. Ted and Rita prepared breakfast burritos for about 60 people beginning at 6:30 am.
Even the weather cooperated for this spectacular event. The sky had been very smoky for several days due to forest fires, but the morning of August 21 was a beautiful sunny day. Perfect eclipse weather. Over 70 people participated in the watch party, which was followed by a spaghetti dinner prepared by the Powells and the Columbia Cascade hosts.
Totality is indescribable. Watching the corona appear, seeing stars and planets during the day, the 360 degree sunset, seeing shadows with crescent sun cutouts was an amazing experience for all. But, the Journey was not over yet!
After viewing the eclipse, the ambassadors and their Columbia Cascade hosts traveled home to the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area for the remainder of the Journey. The traffic was as bad as expected, and Host Coordinator, Laural Engeman reported it took over twice the usual time to return home.
The next morning, the ambassadors boarded a bus for a trip to the iconic Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, visiting Bonneville dam and fish hatchery with a stop at Multnomah Falls. Using Portland’s famous mass transit system, the ambassadors visited Powell’s Bookstore, the Portland Art Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry, and dined at a food cart pod.
The Journey concluded with a bus trip to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum followed by wine tasting and a Farewell Dinner. New friends, shared memories, a total solar eclipse, an unforgettable Friendship Force sleepover – what a wonderful Journey!