Friendship Force of Greater Des Moines,IA

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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is involved in becoming a member of The Friendship Force? You should join if you like the challenge and excitement of meeting new people, visiting new places in the U.S. and abroad, and believe you can help promote peace by better understanding other cultures and ways of life.

Once you complete a Membership form and submit a check ($30 for an individual and $40 for a family) to the Treasurer, you will receive a bi-monthly newsletter and occasional reminders of club activities by email or by U.S. mail. The newsletters also appear on the club's website.

By joining you make a commitment to participate in the activities of the club.

The Greater Des Moines club is part of Friendship Force International (FFI). There are more than 350 clubs around the world. The FFI website has more information about the organization, mission, goals, and club exchanges.

2. What do Greater Des Moines club members do?

FFGDM is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff so member participation is vital. Members celebrate events such as World Friendship Day, participate in joint community activities, organize the Annual Meeting and Dinner, and join club social activities such as Springfest, summer picnic, holiday party, and cultural programs and social activities.

The club’s goal is to sponsor at least two "exchanges" during the year: an Incoming Exchange and an Outbound Exchange. During an exchange members participate by either hosting other clubs' members in their homes or, at minimum, participating in the welcome and farewell events for the visitors.

3. What do you mean by the term "exchange?"

An International Exchange is a home visit by club members of one country to club members of another country. A Domestic Exchange is a visit between two clubs in the same country. An Outbound Exchange is when we visit another club and we are then known as the Ambassadors. An Incoming Exchange occurs when a club visits us and we are then known as the Hosts.

Exchanges are coordinated by FFI in Atlanta and locally coordinated by an Exchange Director or "ED." Photos of some past exchanges can we viewed on the club's webpage.

Domestic exchanges range from 3-7 days and international exchanges from 7-14 days.

4. What is an "Exchange Director (ED)"?

An ED is appointed by the club's Board of Directors subject to the club's policies. The person makes a commitment to recruit ambassadors or hosts, plan events or travel preparations, and communicate with the EDs of the other countries or cities. The ED works with other club members who assist with the planning of the exchange. The ED is responsible for maintaining a budget and submitting a report at the close of the exchange.

5. How are Incoming Exchange Ambassadors hosted?

A. Home hosts. The ED assures that each incoming ambassador is assigned a home host from our club. That host invites the ambassador to be part of his/her household for the entire time of the exchange in Greater Des Moines. Hosts provide breakfasts and meals not included as part of a club event, sleeping accommodations, and transportation to the scheduled events for that week. Throughout the week a natural camaraderie between host and ambassador evolves.

Home hosts usually initiate correspondence with their newly assigned ambassadors as soon as the 'match' is known. Some friendships last years after the exchange is completed.

B. Day hosts. This is an opportunity for someone who wants to participate in the exchange but is unable to home host. This individual volunteers to escort an ambassador for a day, or part of a day, to a scheduled activity, or to entertain them on a 'free day’. This frees the home host to tend to other appointments, prepare dinner, etc.

C. Small dinner hosts. This is another way for a club member to participate in the exchange without home or day hosting. This individual offers to prepare and serve a meal for the home host and the ambassadors. Other club members or members of the community may be invited to join this group.

6. A tradition of 'treating the hosts' Ambassadors traditionally take their hosts small gifts representative of Des Moines and Iowa.

Ambassadors traditionally take their hosts to dinner one night when no group activities are planned. An alternative might be a lunch meal on an outing that is not part of a group activity. Some ambassadors may offer to prepare a meal for their hosts instead.

7. What should I expect financially when I go on an Outbound Exchange?

Traveling with Friendship Force is fairly economical. Expenses you can expect include (as of 2015): $165 to Friendship Force International per exchange week; $100-$150 to each club you visit that they use to cover most of the expenses for activities the week of your visit. There is also an administrative fee of $25 to the Greater Des Moines club.

Your home hosted lodging and most meals are provided by your host unless specified in the itinerary.

You are responsible for your airfare and personal expenses. Any side trips/tours before or after the official exchange are also your financial responsibility.

8. Am I required to host or go on an Outbound Exchange if I am a member?

No. We hope you want to actively participate in the events of the club and help plan the exchanges, serve as Day Hosta or Dinner Hosts, or serve on a committee.

9. Do you travel as a group?

Yes and no: the group usually consists of 10-20 individuals. Travel arrangements vary from departing the local airport as a group to individuals making their own travel arrangements. The end goal is for all ambassadors to arrive at the host city at a designated date and time.

10. Do you visit other clubs in the United States?

Yes. Domestic Exchanges are organized by the clubs involved. They meet the needs of those who do not want to travel abroad as well as those who want to see how people live in other parts of the U.S. They are coordinated by an ED.

11. What if I am not able to go or do not care to go on the scheduled Outbound Exchange? Are there other ways for me to travel with the organization?

Yes, there are a number of ways. You may travel with another club if they have space available.

There are Mission, Discover, and Cultural trips where ambassadors stay mostly in hotels. The FFI website also provides information on festivals and regional/international conferences that often offer home stays after the events.

12. If I don't see myself traveling in the next year should I still join?

Yes. Friendship Force is not a travel club. The mission of FF is building global goodwill through personal relationships.

We look forward to having you join the Friendship Force of Greater Des Moines. Please contact any of the Board members with further questions.