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”.
We 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.
Guests 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
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.