In the summer of 2008, a group of 20 teachers from Jakarta, Indonesia, traveled to the United States for three weeks to study in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) program and to visit American public schools. In Brasov, Romania, students at the Raza de Lumina School for the Blind were the recipients of eye-glasses and special computers. And, earlier, farmers in the Kamuli district of Uganda benefited from a gift of two oxen that helped them in the plowing.
The teachers from Indonesia, the students in Romania and farmers in Uganda were beneficiaries of the hospitality or generosity of members from Friendship Force (FF). An internationally recognized organization, Friendship Force, aims to bring together people from around the world at the personal level through home hospitality and humanitarian work.
In home hospitality or ‘home-stay’ a family in another country opens their doors to invite you into their home to share everyday family life and learn about a culture and country from the inside. FF also offers themed travel for people interested in humanitarian work; teacher exchanges; and student exchanges. These themed exchanges also offer the opportunity for home hospitality but with the added dimension of a specific focus.
Since 1977, when FF was founded, the organization has grown to 377 chartered clubs and programs in 60 countries on 6 continents with more than 18,000 members worldwide. More than 225,000 ambassadors and 750,000 hosts have participated in Friendship Force programs since its inception. In the 1980’s Friendship Force was one of the first NGO’s to cross the Iron Curtain, breaking down barriers that separate people. Today, the FFI Clubs in Russia are among the strongest and most active in the world.
Believing that promoting global understanding across barriers that separate people is just as important today as it was 36 years ago, FF members work passionately to connect people at the personal level, across cultural, social, religious and language barriers. FF, which can be contacted through their website frienshipforce.org aims to establish new clubs in all the regions of the world and to open new countries and communities to their global exchange program.
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. The program allows you to go where you have never been and meet local people on a personal level; taking you on a journey into the heart of a country and its people, sharing the culture, sights and experiences that are not available to regular tourists.
When you travel or host with the FF, 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. Often, friendships are formed that last a lifetime.
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.
Friendship Force participants are able to greet the world with an open mind and with respect for other cultures thereby making an individual contribution toward global goodwill. When you travel or host with FF, you get to know real people by sharing real life.