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This year, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada we were “Building Bridges” between the past and future of Friendship Force at the 2015 International World Conference. Five hundred and ten people attended, representing 25 countries.

Ambassadors were welcomed with a remarkable performance by the Welsh Men’s Choir who brought us to our feet with a heartfelt rendition of “Let There Be Peace on Earth”.

imageWe officially kicked off the conference with an annual tradition, as the World Conference Host Cup was handed over from Debbie Lattey, FF Kapiti Coast, to Dan McMaster, FF Metro Vancouver. The FF Metro Vancouver club gave delegates an introduction to the conference with a performance of their original “Welcome to Vancouver” Song. There were also welcomes from Andrea Reimer, Deputy Mayor, Nancy Nightingale of the Squamish Nation, Cecile Latour FFI Board Chair, and Pallie Savoie, Conference Director. Then, plenary speaker Michelle Ray got everyone thinking with her presentation on leadership, change and uncertainty.

Delegates had the opportunity to attend four workshops throughout the conference, choosing from among 21 different topics. Led by successful Friendship Force volunteers, FFI board members and staff, the workshops covered a variety of topics including the Ambassador vetting process, leadership skills, NextGen for everyone, new club models and FFI’s financial situation.

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

Some attendees chose to embark on the Harbour dinner cruise for the evening, while others opted for their own entertainment doing some independent sightseeing, catching up with friends, or enjoying the wonderful food city of Vancouver.

On day 2, we all got our day started with some morning yoga with the guidance of Valerie Mowatt and her husband. Then we heard a candid message from Cecile Latour on the current financial situation of the Friendship Force and what we can and need to do to help the organization thrive.  The transcript of her talk can be found on the “Presentations” page. Ambassadors were then free to attend their final two workshop choices.

imageGuests were welcomed to Sunday night’s gala banquet by the musical stylings of the Metro Vancouver Firefighters Band. Once inside, the banquet hall was truly a sight to behold, from the beautiful, waterfront location, to the fantastic bridge centerpieces made by the host club, to the delicious buffet with a wide variety of foods chosen to represent each of Vancouver’s different cultural neighborhoods. Ambassadors danced the night away to the sounds of the Dennis Enns Trio, posed for photos with each other, and penned well wishes to Friendship Force introducer Jimmy Carter.

Delegates made the most of their last conference morning by attending the World Bazaar, where clubs from around the world sold mementos and other fun items representing their own unique cultures. We then heard from Elaine Goosen of the Fraser Valley Gleaners. The official announcement was made that the 2017 World Conference will be taking place in Manchester, UK. Then Lotfi Lamrani charmed ambassadors with his welcome to Marrakesh, Morocco for the 2016 World Conference to take place September 16-19th, and a short video compilation.

Excellence in Volunteerism and Leadership

At each World Conference, FFI presents awards to honor clubs and volunteers for their innovations, achievements and leadership. The following awards were presented at the 2015 World Conference:

Volunteer of the Year: Hanaa Rashad, FF Cairo, Egypt
Club of the Year: FF Western Colorado, USA
Lifetime Achievement: Ann Errington, FF Devon, UK
Lifetime Achievement: Christopher Smith, FF Sacramento, California, USA

Innovative Programming: FF Whidbey Island
Club Engagement: FF Ottawa
Community Partnership: FF Sierra Leone

Technology Utilization: John Stapleton, FF Salisbury and Northern Districts, AUS
Humanitarian: Shiva Shrestha, FF Nepal
Philanthropy: Heather Haythorpe, FF Sunshine Coast, AUS

Special Thanks

FFI would like to extend a special thank you to the Friendship Force Metro Vancouver and especially the host committee comprised of Dan and Lissa Macmaster, Angie Grikis, Lindsey McCann, Marian Ennis, Pearl Wong and Maureen Pringle.

We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave presentations and served on panels; and to the 18 clubs opened their doors to ambassadors for pre-and post-conference homestays. Thank you to all the hosts who gave their guests a wonderful Friendship Force experience!

The 2016 World Conference will take us on an exciting adventure in Marrakesh, Morocco, September 16 to 19, 2016.

Registration will open next year. Until then, please direct your questions to Debbie Powell at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Looking for Vancouver conference photos?

Follow this link to the official Friendship Force flickr account where you can download copies for yourself!

Instructions for Downloading:

1. Click on the photo you would like to download.

2. Click on the symbol of the downward pointing arrow in the lower right corner.

3. Select the size you would like to download.

4. The photo will then download to your computer so that you can share it!

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Conference Addresses from Cecile Latour, FFI Board Chair
      - Pulling Together: Atlanta, Board, and Membership

Away with Words! Learn How Visuals Can Help Convey Your Message
      Presented by Maggie Smith
      Version: PDF

Changing Strangers Into Friends
      Presented by Dave Kalan
      Version: PDF

Creating a Strategic Plan for Your Club
      Presented by Ed Ekis, Joan Nagelkirk, and Dale Moore
      Version: PDF

The Friendship Force Strategic Plan and You
      Presented by Mary Mwambay
      Version: PDF

Friendship In Action
      Presented by Donna Baldwin-Haut
      Version: PDF

Get Connected: Social Media Q&A
      Presented by Maggie Smith, Bob Duncan, Mike Matthews, and Anh Nguyen
      Version: PDF

Growing FFI In Europe
      Presented by Allison Lindsey, Kurt Haefeli, and Birgit Wagner
      Version: PDF

How to Lead Effectively
      Presented by Yvonne Shakes, Debbie Lattey, Fenny Gee, and Christiane Beaupre
      Version: PDF

How You Can Help Keep Friendship Force Financially Strong and Growing
      Presented by Andrew Stirling, Dave Meyer, and Viv Caulfield
      Version: PDF

Invigorate Exchanges and Attract All Ages
      Presented by Pat Meyer and Linh Pham Thu
      Version:  PDF

Keeping the Friendship Force Vibrant in the US
      Presented by Adrienne Moen, Marilyn Peterson, Barbara Guilford, and John Heard
      Version: PDF

Make Me a Match!
      Presented by Kristin Harrison
      Version: PDF

New Club Models
      Presented by Mary Mwambay and Kurt Haefeli
      - Presentation: PDF 
      - Handout: PDF

The NextGen Initiative
      Presented by Laura Romero, Dilek Sinlak, Dave Kalan, and Birgit Wagner
      - NextGen: PDF
      - NextGen Adventure Exchange: PDF
      - Engaging the Next Generation: PDF
      - NextGen from Inside: PDF

Online Tools for Your Club
      Presented by Laura Romero
      Version: PDF

Selecting New Ambassadors and Hosts for Your Exchange
      Presented by Laurie Ann Scott
      Version: PDF     

Strength in Numbers: Presenting Friendship Force to Groups
      Presented by Dave Kalan, Gwen Harfst, and Hilary Joseph
      Version: PDF

“Waiting List Only!” How to Effectively Use the Catalog to Promote Your Exchange
      Presented by Maggie Smith and Laurie Ann Scott
      Version: PDF

You Make the Match!
      Presented by Kristin Harrison
      Version: PDF

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