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The 2013 World Conference in New Orleans, USA, was the largest Friendship Force gathering in history, with over 700 people in attendance, representing 33 countries.


The conference opened with a new video to welcome everyone to a weekend of learning, sharing, and friendship in the “Big Easy.” James Morikawa of FF Hiroshima, on behalf of last year’s conference committee, handed over the official FFI Conference Cup to FF Baton Rouge, our wonderful hosts.

President and CEO of Friendship Force International Joy DiBenedetto greeted us all and made her first public address to the members. She emphasized the significance of the Friendship Force stories that each of us has to tell, and how spreading those stories using traditional and social media can draw people in to our mission, helping to build a bright Friendship Force future.

FF Baton Rouge pulled us right into the local culture with a powerful performance by the group Heritage, which sings the African American spirituals that have been sung in this region for over a century. Other cultural opportunities during the conference included New Orleans-style cooking classes and a Cajun dance workshop.

Almost 30 workshop sessions over two days gave delegates opportunities to learn more about FFI’s global goals and the innovative strategies taking shape in other clubs around the world. Our members were able to share with one another their own successes and ideas and come away with new ways of being a force of friendship in the world. Topics including club growth, engaging the next generation, “dinner party diplomacy,” social media and storytelling/photography were especially popular.

Click on “Presentations” in the yellow menu bar above to see materials and videos from the conference workshops.

Sunday night’s gala banquet was a true Mardi Gras-style celebration, complete with gumbo and other savory dishes, a live jazz band, costumed performers, dancing, lots of laughs and even a parade King and Queen.

Afterward, the band led us on a parade through the French Quarter. It was cold, but everyone had a great time dancing with the music and tossing beads to the spectators who stopped to watch us.

On Monday morning, the Baton Rouge club had arranged a musical presentation for us by two renowned jazz musicians, Don Vappie and Ed Petersen. With a banjo and saxophone, they played songs for us that demonstrated the historic connections between jazz and Creole folk music.

Former Board Chair Alan Milne invited us all to the next world conference in Auckland, New Zealand, before Ann Errington officially closed the 2013 conference by leading the singing of “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

Excellence in Volunteerism and Leadership

At each World Conference, FFI recognizes two clubs and two volunteers for achieving excellence in such areas as exchange programs, public relations, service and specific achievements. The 2013 Outstanding Volunteers are Bobbie Mulholland of FF Adelaide, Australia, and Peter Peiffer of FF Central North Carolina, USA. The 2013 Outstanding Clubs are FF Sunshine Coast, Australia, and (jointly) the Friendship Force clubs of Omaha, Lincoln, Kansas and Oklahoma, who collaborated on a four-part global exchange. Click here to read the award citations.

This year, FFI presented three additional awards. In the category of “explore,” the award was given to Dave and Pat Meyer of FF Northern Illinois; in the category of “understand,” the award went to Bob Langford of FF Dallas; and in the category of “serve,” the award went to Yasushi Kinugasa of FF Koriyama and Tom and Jean Ledwidge of FF Sunshine Coast. Click here to read their award citations.

FFI would like to extend a special thank you to FF Baton Rouge, Bob Duncan and the other volunteers who worked so hard to make the conference a success. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave presentations and served on panels.

After the conference, 21 clubs in the US opened their doors for post-conference homestays over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you to all the hosts who gave their guests a wonderful Friendship Force experience!

The 2014 World Conference is an event you won’t want to miss. Join us in Auckland, New Zealand, October 14 to 16, 2014.

Registration will open in January.


View photographs on Flickr. Download any photos that you want for yourself or your club.

Instructions for downloading:

1. Click on the photo.

2. Click on the image of the 3 dots in the bottom right corner, below the photo.

3. Select the “View all sizes” option.

4. Select the size image that you would like to download and click on it.

5. Click the option to “Download the _____ size of this photo”.

6. The photo should then download onto your computer, for you to share with family and friends!

Performance by Heritage:

Performance by Don Vappie and Ed Petersen:

Click on Presentations in the yellow menu bar above to see videos of the music and dancing workshops.

Submit your best photos to Kelly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Questions or comments? Write to Jillian at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Please note: Presentations may take several minutes to load.

Read the Conference Program

101 Ways to Build an Exchange

All About Themed Exchanges by Bob Cole of FF Haliburton Highlands, Betty Starr of FF Lincoln, and Loes Epping of FFI Board of Directors and FF Netherlands East

A Detailed Look at a Successful Themed Exchange by Betty Starr of FF Lincolcn

Through the Lens of an FF Traveler: Photography and Storytelling

Photography: Telling Your Friendship Force Story through Photos by Barbara Macken of FF National Capital Area

A Friendship Force Story by Val Keenan of FF Winnipeg

Storytelling with Facebook by Doris Mueller of FF Greater Milwaukee

Recipe Book compiled by Doris Mueller and participants of the 2012 global food exchange

My Language Exchange: A New Partnership

Finding New Members through Language Communities by Eileen Howell, FFI Volunteer Marketing Consultant - Languages, Ottawa, Canada

Gotta Dance…Cajun Style!

Cajun dancing taught by Les Danseurs de la Capitale de Baton Rouge:

Singing and Dancing Together

Traditional dance taught by delegates from Turkey:

“Waltzing Matilda” led by delegates from Australia:

Let’s Talk: English for Exchanges

Basic English Phrases by Marge Terdal of FF Columbia Cascade

FFI Staff: Live at the Astor

The Role of a Program Services Coordinator by FFI staff

Sign On: Your First Steps With Social Media

Getting Started- Facebook

Getting Started- Twitter

Privacy and Security

Likes, Shares & Hashtags: Social Media for Your Club

Why Does My Club Need Facebook? by Robin Doohan and Lesley Quire of FF Sydney

Starting a Club Page on Facebook by Robin Doohan and Lesley Quire of FF Sydney

Likes, Shares and Hashtags – Making Use of Social Media by Laura Romero and Matthew Nidek, FFI Staff

La estructura de Friendship Force

Junta Directiva - Cuqui Ardila, FFI Junta Directiva

La Estructura de Friendship Force - Laura Romero

Make Me a Match

Make Me a Match by Pallie Savoie

Dinner Party Diplomacy

Dinner Party Diplomacy by Barb Clarke and Marilyn Peterson

Engaging the Next Generation

Presentation by Mark Rebstock, FFI Board of Directors, Washington, DC, USA

Presentation by Cecile Latour, FFI Board of Directors, Canadian Capital Region, Canada

Friends and Teachers: Giving Back

Presentation by Allison Lindsey, FFI Staff

Friendship at Work: Professional Programs

Creating Opportunities by Dave Kalan, former FFI Board Member, FF Greater Milwaukee

Open World: A Model for FFI Professional Programs by Bill Wilkes, Western North Carolina

Questions or comments? Write to Jillian at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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