There are 379 Friendship Force clubs active in the world. We all share a common mission to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people. We do this by connecting people from different countries at the personal level through inbound and outbound exchanges. When we visit or receive Friendship Force members from other countries and cultures, true understanding can develop through the sharing of meals, conversation and the routines of daily life. Since 1977, FFI has brought together millions of people. In fact, our organization has been so successful in its mission that Friendship Force was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
Our Friendship Force Florida Suncoast club meets in Pinellas County and has members from Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Currently, our club has 138 members. We welcome people of all ages and our membership includes singles as well as couples and families.
Our club meets monthly – either at a program meeting, an ethnic restaurant for lunch, or at a special event such as our Annual Picnic or Holiday Party. Most of our events are scheduled on the third Saturday of each month. We also produce a monthly Newsletter and maintain a web site with current and future exchange information.
New member dues are $35 for singles and $55 for family membership, which includes the cost of a membership badge. Renewing dues are $25 per year for singles and $40 for couples and families. Your club membership provides you full membership in Friendship Force International.
Join Us in Making Friends Around the World
We are not a travel club, but we do enjoy traveling and hosting new friends from around the world by participating in Exchanges.
Whether we are traveling on an exchange to another club in the U.S. or abroad or receiving visitors from another club, Friendship Force features a home stay that provides for a rich, memorable and very personal experience.
In addition to the exchanges planned by our club, our members can also take part in any of the exchanges organized by other Friendship Force clubs or our International office. This includes visits with a special purpose such as a humanitarian or educational exchange. Our members also participate in Friendship Force festivals, conferences and special events hosted each year by Friendship Force International.
Our members have traveled to dozens of countries, staying in the homes of Friendship Force members and exploring their culture and cities, meeting new friends. Just a few of the destinations our club has traveled to are:
Japan South Africa
Planned Time and Free Time
Generally, most exchanges involve a one-week home-stay in the home of another Friendship Force member at the chosen destination. Often, the trip may last two weeks, splitting the trip between two destinations and two different host families. There are always free, unplanned days in the itinerary and frequently, our members will travel with the Friendship Force group and then opt to travel independently to another destination before returning home. There are ample opportunities for you to spend free time doing the things you might choose to do on your own.
As a Friendship Force member, you can have a rich cultural experience and meet new friends from around the world – without leaving your home!
Each year our club usually hosts two groups of visitors from other international and domestic Friendship Force clubs. Our members participate in a variety of ways – by hosting visitors in their homes for 5-7 days, serving as a day host, attending planned excursions and social activities, etc.
Our chapter has received guests and provided home-stays to new friends from dozens of countries. Just a few include:
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Turkey, Vietnam.
Simply complete the membership application at the head of this page and mail it to the address provided. As soon as we receive your form, a member of our Membership Committee will contact you and help you get involved. You will also be invited to the next scheduled New Member Orientation where we give you details about how the exchanges work, etc. We really do welcome you!
We are happy to tell the Friendship Force story and have also prepared some answers to frequently asked questions. For more information we encourage you to explore this website, which features previous issues of our newsletters, club activities, photos and more.
Also, feel free to contact our membership chairperson
Bill Lee 727-266-4380
What is involved in becoming a member of The Friendship Force?
¨ You believe in the goals and mission of the organization
¨ You have a curiosity about the world, different cultures and ways of life
¨ You like challenge and the excitement of new people, places and experiences
¨ You believe that friendship among people of different countries and culture can make the worldmore peaceful
I don’t see myself traveling in the next year or so, should I still join?
Absolutely! Friendship Force is not a travel club; there are many aspects of involvement. The mission of Friendship Force is to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people. When our club hosts exchanges, there are many ways you can participate, make new friends and learn about other cultures and lifestyles. And when we aren’t hosting exchanges or traveling, our club has interesting programs and fun events, plus you will meet people who share your similar interests in travel and cultural exploration.
What do you mean by the term Exchange?
An exchange is a visit to/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. An Inbound Exchange occurs when a club visits us.
Do you plan to visit clubs in the United States?
Yes, there are 107 clubs in the States and clubs can arrange what are called “Domestic Exchanges with another club where there is a mutual interest in such a visit.
Do you travel as a group?
Yes and no. The group usually consists of 20 to 25 individuals known as Ambassadors, and travel arrangements may vary. Sometimes we depart the local airport as a group, or sometimes all the individuals make their own travel arrangements and meet at the airport from which we depart the U.S. or meet at a specified time and location in the host city.
Do you have free time to pursue independent interests?
Yes. Even when you are staying with another host family, you will have opportunities for free time when you can venture out independently or express an interest in seeing or doing something separate from the group. Also, most exchanges are structured so you can opt to travel independently before or after the home-exchange period.
How do I participate when the club receives in-bound exchanges?
Generally, all our club members will be asked to participate in one or more of these ways:
¨ Hosting Ambassadors in your home
¨ Serving as a Day Host
¨ Providing transportation
¨ Serving as a Small Dinner Host in your home
¨ Attending a Welcome and Good Bye Reception
¨ Participating in other group activities and excursions planned for our visitors.
What’s involved in being a home host?
The best thing about being a home host is that you will make new friends and learn about new cultures without leaving home! You agree to share your home with someone from another country or state (usually 5-7 nights). Our Exchange Director is armed with information about the ages, gender and interests of the Ambassadors and will try to pair you up accordingly. Our club will have a full week of activities planned, so you don’t need to worry about entertaining your guests around the clock. Group activities are planned in advance and the cost of the Ambassador’s portion will have been paid for by part of their program fee.
What are the responsibilities of a home host?
Hosts are responsible for providing suitable accommodations and any meals that are not part of the group activities. Hosts are responsible for getting their guests to the group activities and paying for their own entrance fees or meals, but other members serve as day hosts, help with transportation and host dinners and outings too. We have a workshop before our visitors arrive to learn about their culture, traditions, etc. so there be no surprises
The most important thing to remember is that you are hosting Friendship Force members who share the same interest in learning about different cultures. They will surely enjoy our group excursions to the beach, museums and nearby attractions, but their travel experience will be enriched by meeting your friends and family and understanding your lifestyle. As a home host, you might consider taking them to your place of worship, the grocery store, the library or even the post office. Walks through your neighborhood, bike rides on the Pinellas Trail or a backyard barbecue with neighbors - these everyday experiences might be the best memories of their visit to Tampa Bay.
You will find it a wonderful experience. Often your Ambassador’s departure will be the beginning of an enduring friendship that will grow through correspondence and return visits.
Since I am a single woman, would I be matched with another woman?
Yes. That is typical, while couples normally host another couple. 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 guests, as do interest and occupation.
What’s involved in being a day host?
A day host is someone who wants to participate in the exchange but is unable to be a home host. Day hosts typically escort an ambassador for one or more days to a scheduled activity or plans a day with one or more of our visitors.
What would be expected of me if I volunteer to be a small group dinner host?
You decide how many guests you feel comfortable having for dinner and coordinate your plans with the Exchange Committee. The menu is your choice and you may ask invited guests to bring a salad, dessert, appetizer or wine. It’s entirely up to you. The whole idea is to share the culture of your guest and give them the opportunity to visit another home and meet others. Of course, the guest’s host family accompanies them to your dinner. Sharing fun, laughter and conversation are the goals for the evening.
Who Serves as Exchange Director and on the Exchange Committee?
Every inbound and outbound exchange has an Exchange Director, treasurer and a Committee that plans, organizes and leads the exchange. The Exchange Director is a member who has been approved by our Board of Directors and has the leadership qualities and commitment of time needed for adequate planning and screening of Ambassadors with a 9-12 month lead-time. Our club offers training workshops to train first-time Exchange Directors and they are mentored and
assisted by experienced EDs.