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.
Just print and complete a Membership Application and send it, along with a check for $30 per individual membership, to the address on the membership form. Members receive a bi-monthly newsletter and occasional reminders of club activities by email. 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) that has more than 350 clubs around the world. The FFI website has more information about the organization, mission, goals, and club exchanges.
What do Greater Des Moines club members do?
FFGDM is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff so member participation is vital. Members organize activities such as World Friendship Day, the Annual Dinner Meeting, cultural programs, social activities, and a community service project.
The club’s goal is to sponsor at least two journeys during the year. Members can participate by traveling as ambassadors for our club, hosting ambassadors from other clubs in their homes, serving on a journey planning committee or, at minimum, participating in the welcome and farewell events for the visitors.
What do you mean by the term "journey"?
An International Journey is a visit by club members of one country to club members of another country. A Domestic Journey is a visit between two clubs in the same country. An Outbound Journey is when we visit another club and we are then known as the Ambassadors. An Incoming Journey occurs when a club visits us and we are then known as the Hosts.
Journeys are arranged by FFI in Atlanta and locally coordinated by a Journey Coordinator. Photos of some past journeys can we viewed here.
Domestic journeys range from 3-7 days and international journeys from 5 - 7 days.
What is a "Journey Coordinator"?
A Journey Coordinator (JC) is appointed by the club's Board of Directors subject to the club's policies. The JC, with a committee, recruits ambassadors or hosts, plans events or coordinates travel, communicates with their corresponding JC, maintains a budget and submits a report at the close of the journey.
How are Incoming Journey Ambassadors hosted?
A. Home hosts. The JC 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 journey 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 journey is completed.
B. Day hosts. This is an opportunity for someone who wants to participate in the journey but is unable to home host. These members volunteer 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 allows 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 journey 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.
What should I expect financially when I go on an Outbound Journey?
Traveling with Friendship Force is fairly economical. Expenses you can expect include (as of 2017): $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 breakfast 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 journey are also your financial responsibility.
Am I required to host or go on an Outbound Journey if I am a member?
No, however, we do expect active participation by all club members. We hope you joined because you want to participate in club activities, help plan journeys, serve as Day Hosts or Dinner Hosts, or serve on a committee.
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.
Do you visit other clubs in the United States?
Yes. Domestic Journeys 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.
What if I am not able to go or do not care to go on the scheduled Outbound Journey? 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.
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.