• What is “Friendship Force International"?
Answer: FFI is a worldwide network of clubs that bridge the barriers separating people in order to promote global understanding. We do this by connecting people from different countries and cultures at a personal level. When local hosts open their homes to visitors from other lands, true understanding develops through the sharing of meals, conversation and daily routines. Visit the Friendship Force International website.
• When do you meet?
Answer: The San Diego club usually gathers for a general meeting (and a travel-related program) on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 1:30 PM (except July & August and during months of Inbound Exchanges).
• Where do you meet?
Answer: We usually meet at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. It is part of the Uptown District Shopping Center (Ralphs & Trader Joe's) near 163 in San Diego, 92103. It is just north of University Avenue on Vermont Street between the Aladdin Café (1220 Cleveland Avenue) and the Panera Bread Restaurant (1270 Cleveland Avenue). Due to the popular markets across the street parking is very "competitive" so allow extra time.
• How many members does the San Diego Club have?
Answer: Currently we have 20 couples and 30 single members (70 members). Most members are retired.
• What is involved in becoming a member of The Friendship Force?
Answer: Join the Friendship Force If you believe in the goals and mission of the organization; you like the challenge and excitement of new people, places and experiences; you believe that friendship among people of different countries and cultures can make the world more peaceful; and you have a curiosity about the world and enjoy learning about other cultures and ways of life on exchange activities. Contact the membership Chair or complete the Membership Application.
• What do you mean by the term “Exchange?”
Answer: An “Exchange” is a visit to or from a club in another part of the world or another state. This involves home hospitality, the heart of a Friendship Force exchange, which provides the opportunity for people of different countries and cultures to connect at a personal level. We refer to it as an “Outbound Exchange” when we visit another club. Often an optional tour of the area follows an exchange. An “Inbound Exchange” occurs when a club visits us. We usually have two outbound (international and domestic) and two inbound exchanges (international and domestic) per year that are arranged by our international organization.
• What if I am not able to go or don’t care to go the Outbound Exchange you have scheduled? Are there other ways for me to travel with the organization?
Answer: There are a number of other ways to travel. You may travel with another club from this country if they have room for you. Click here for a Catalog of Worldwide Exchanges.There are Humanitarian and Discovery trips that include people from several countries where the Ambassadors travel somewhere and stay mostly in hotels but meet people from that country to interest them in forming Friendship Force Clubs. Several Festivals are held each year in different parts of the world where all are welcome to come to stay in a hotel but meet people from the area, there may or may not be home stays offered after the festival. Regional and International Conferences are held each each year, and there are long weekend trips in our area and volunteer opportunities as well.
• Am I required to host or go on Outbound Exchanges if I am a member?
Answer: There is no requirement by our club for members to host visitors or go on outbound exchanges. We hope though, that those joining would want to actively participate in those events, as they are how we can best learn about people in other cultures. If you cannot host or travel, you can still day host or participate with our club members in other activities. Check out our Events Calendar.
• Do you travel as a group?
Answer: Yes and no; the group usually consists of 15 to 20 individuals, known as “Ambassadors.” Travel arrangements vary from departing the local airport as a group to some, or, all, of the individuals making their own travel arrangements and meeting at the airport in order to depart the U.S. together, or meeting in a specific location in the host city at a definite time. The latter provides the most flexibility,and a less expensive way, but group travel can contribute to a more rewarding experience. The method of travel is a decision made by the Exchange Director.
• What is an “Exchange Director?”
Answer: An “Exchange Director” (ED) is an individual who has applied and been approved by the Board of Directors to plan, organize, and lead an outbound or inbound exchange. This job is open to anyone who has the desired leadership qualities and can make the commitment of time needed for recruiting Ambassadors or in the case of Inbound exchanges of planning the homestays and activities in San Diego - both require a 9 to 12 month lead-time. Our club has some great experienced Exchange Directors (ED) who are more than willing to mentor a first time ED.
• How do you find out what is happening in the club?
Answer: You will receive a membership packet, and then periodic newsletters and frequent bulletins by e-mail about activities, new members, and exchanges. Attend one of our monthly meetings or check out the "News Articles" and "Event Calendar" tabs on our website for our club's latest information.
• I don’t see myself traveling in the next year or so, should I still join?
Answer: Certainly, Friendship Force is not a travel club; there are many other aspects of involvement. The mission of Friendship Force is building global goodwill through personal friendships. This can be accomplished in other ways. You might consider being a home host, a day host, a small group dinner host, or someone who attends social activities to build friendships with individuals who attended social activities to build friendships with individuals who have an interest in the goals of Friendship Force International.
• What do you mean by the term “home host?”
Answer: You agree to share your home for five to seven days and nights with a Friendship Force member from another country or state. Learn about another culture without leaving home. You will have the opportunity to participate in a number of group/club outings so you won’t have to plan everything for you and your guest. The cost of events, admissions and outside meals for group activities is paid for our visitors using the fees the visitors have paid in advance. But as you would host a friend in your home, you host without compensation for meals at home, transportation in your own car, and your own activity/tour costs.
• How are single travelers and hosts matched?
Answer: While couples will normally be matched with another couple. Singles possibly will be hosted by a couple or a single. There are exceptions, but it is your decision. Frequently, the number of bedrooms and type of bed(s) available play a part in matching hosts and ambassadors. Often, (guests) are matched by common interests and occupations. Also, traveling as a single is easier when you are with a group and a family; you are not alone.
• Will I have the opportunity to communicate with my host or guest prior to his/her arrival?
Answer: Usually that is the case. Nearly all Friendship Force members around the world now have email addresses. Important: As soon as possible, contact your host/ambassador by e-mail, letter, or phone. For many, friendships, communications, and private visits continue for years and even a lifetime.
•What are the responsibilities of a “home host?”
Answer: A home host invites his/her guest to be a part of the family for the time the exchange is in the community and to involve your guest in the activities of the family. To participate in all official functions that are planned and attend all scheduled workshops. You will still have time to visit and share with your guest individually. If you have an obligation during the exchange that is of such a nature that you are unable to take your guest, inform the Exchange Director and a “day host” will be arranged to accompany/entertain your guest on your busy day.
• Exactly what is a “day host?”
Answer: It is someone who wants to participate in the exchange but, for whatever reason, is unable to home host. This individual volunteers to escort an ambassador for one or more days to a scheduled activity or, if it is a day when no group activity is planned, decides how and where to spend the day with the guest. It would be a good idea to discuss this with the guest so the activity you plan is something of interest to both of you.
• What would be expected of me if I volunteer to be a “Friendship Dinner" host?
Answer: "Friendship Dinners" are usually held in member homes who are not hosting an Ambassador. Dinners are usually for 6-12 people including the homestay hosts, their Ambassadors, and other San Diego Club members. You decide how many guests, in addition to the number in your family, you feel comfortable having for dinner on an evening specified by the Exchange Committee. The menu is your choice and generally you provide the main course and arrange for your invited guests to bring a salad, dessert, appetizer, or wine. It is entirely up to you. The evening is for you to plan whether you play a game or just visit. The whole idea is to share the culture of your guest and give them the opportunity to visit another home and meet others. When space allows, members, new and potential new members are included as guests. Of course, the guest’s host family accompanies them to your dinner, sharing, fun, laughter, and conversation are the goals for the evening.
• Do you visit clubs in the United States?
Answer: Yes, there are over 100 clubs in the United States and clubs can arrange what are called “Domestic Exchanges” or “Inter-club Exchanges” with another club where there is a mutual interest in such a visit.
• What types of social activities does the club have?
Answer: The club normally meets once a month all year round. Exceptions are when we are hosting an incoming club; then the social events associated with that exchange are our meeting for the month. Meetings feature speakers or parties. (Sometimes we need reservations so check in advance.) Topics include places we are visiting or hosting, world events, cultures of other countries and topics of interest to those who enjoy international culture, travel and friendship. During the year we typically have a picnic, lunch or dinner at a local ethnic restaurant, small group dinners in homes, and a holiday party. Other events may be planned as well. We hold business meetings every month in which we there is no Inbound Exchange.
• What should I expect financially when I go on an Outbound Exchange?
Answer: On an outbound exchange, we pay for our own transportation to and from the host city and a fee ($165/person) to Friendship Force International for the exchange; also there an exchange fee (~$150/person/week) which is paid to the hosting club for the group meals, activities, local transportation. In addition, Ambassadors usually bring a gift for their host family and treat them to lunch or dinner once during the their home-stay. If there is a tour following the exchange, you would pay the cost of the transportation, tour, lodging, and meals if you choose to go. Members are expected to return the favor and participate during Inbound Exchanges by home-hosting, day-hosting, Friendship Dinner hosting, and generally helping arrange and participate in the group activities and meals.
• How much are membership dues?
Answer: Dues are for the calendar year. Currently dues are $30 per member. For additional information, contact a board member or our membership chairperson. In addition, Friendship Force clubs are organized and lead entirely by volunteer members. All members are expected to participate in some way. To that end, before your membership application is accepted you will be asked to choose a committee where you can contribute to our club's activities.
* What are the Committees?
Answer: Exchanges, Membership, Hospitality, Newsletter, Merchandise, Finance, Sunshine, Communications, "We Eat Out" (WEO), as well as elected officers: President, President-Elect, Treasurer, and Exchange Coordinator, and At-Large Directors.