Friendship Force Terminology

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Friendship Force terminology

Friendship Force (FF), Friendship Force International (FFI) — The overall international organization that provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at a personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation and the best sights and experiences of their region. It was founded and is still based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and first introduced in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of state governors. Check out the website at for more information.

FFNM — Friendship Force of New Mexico, one of 300+ clubs around the world, chartered by FFI to offer intercultural home hosting experiences.

Alejandra Lobos Diaz, an ambassador from La Serena, Chile dressed to represent her country during the farewell dinner for their 2015 exchange in New Mexico.
Alejandra Lobos Diaz, an ambassador from La Serena, Chile dressed to represent her country during the farewell dinner for their 2015 exchange in New Mexico.

Journey or Exchange – A formal program of people-to-people visits, usually of five to seven days, between chapters in two countries (international journey) or parts of the same country (domestic journey), organized by volunteers to introduce the guests to the culture and people of a city, region, or country through a home stay experience. See below for inbound journey, outbound journey, special themed journey and catalog journey. The original term was “exchange” because chapter A would visit chapter B, and chapter B would then visit chapter A. Such “home and home” visits (to borrow a sports term) are less common now, and the name was changed to “journey” in 2017. But “exchange” is still commonly used.

Ambassador — A participant in an exchange to promote cultural understanding and awareness who is expected to represent the home chapter or country as a citizen ambassador.

Inbound journey — A formal program, usually of six to seven days, in which our chapter arranges activities to introduce visiting ambassadors to the culture and life of our club’s area.

Outbound journey — A visit arranged by distant FF members to enable participants vetted and organized by our club to learn about the distant country or area through a six- to seven-day program of daily activities and family experiences.

Catalog journey — An open exchange hosted by an FF club in a particular community/country which is available to all FF members. Selected exchanges are promoted on the website

Special themed journey — A type of catalog journey that usually lasts longer than a week and has activities organized under a theme, such as language learning, hiking, gardening, or getting to know a culture or region in more depth. FFNM in 2017 hosted one titled “Ancestral and Contemporary Puebloan Culture in New Mexico” that included lectures and visits to existing and historic pueblo sites.

The two Chiapas EDs
Chiapas, Mexico, exchange 2013 — The two Chiapas exchange directors, Anne Heard for New Mexico and Yolanda Osorio for the Mundo Maya Club in Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of Chiapas

Journey coordinator or exchange director (ED) — The lead volunteer and “face” for any journey/exchange. Responsible for organizing and selecting ambassadors to make a positive impact on international understanding and goodwill; for planning the event and preparing ambassador or host participants for their roles; and for acting as the leader of the journey into the heart of another country or area. Each journey/exchange has an “ambassador coordinator” for the traveling group and a “host coordinator” for the welcoming group. The term “exchange director” is still common for both, however.

Home stay — A hosting arrangement, usually provided by a household in a distant location, identified, organized and vetted by the FF club sponsoring a journey.

Home host, or host — The individual(s) providing a home visitation experience to the visiting ambassadors. Hosts may be full hosts, day hosts or dinner hosts. Hosts may arrange for friends and neighbors of other community members to meet the visiting ambassadors.

Day host — An FF chapter member or prospective member in the host chapter who assists the host with transportation to organized program events, provides day tours of local attractions, or offers to serve as a host if the host is at work or unavailable during day time.

Small group dinner
A typical small-group dinner.

Dinner host — An interested FF chapter or community member who wishes to be involved with a journey/exchange by hosting a small dinner, lunch or brunch for visiting ambassadors and their hosts. (Also known as small-group dinner host.)

FFI ambassador fee – A fee paid by each ambassador to FFI to cover the direct costs of supporting the journey and to contribute to the general operations of the FFI network. The current fee is $150 per exchange week.

Host club fee — A fee paid by each ambassador to the host club to pay the cost of the group activities during the event. The current fee is $100 per exchange week.

Earned seat — An ambassador coordinator “earns” travel costs to and from the host community and Host Club Program Fees. These costs are shared by the ambassadors going on the exchange.

Region — A geographical area established by FF International for administration and communication purposes. New Mexico is part of the Mountain States Region (AKA Rocky Mountain Region) along with six clubs in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Regional representative — Each region in the United States has a designated representative who is a member of a club within the region and serves on an ad hoc advisory board to FFI to encourage communication to and from the region and Atlanta.

Conference — A meeting of FF clubs to share ideas and best practices – regional meetings are usually held every other year and rotated among clubs. International meetings were held annually through 2017 with alternate years in United States or abroad, but now are held every other year.

Adapted from FF Cheyenne and FF Northern Colorado