About FFNM

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About Friendship Force New Mexico

Friendship Force of New Mexico was the first chartered by Friendship Force International in 1979. Its first event was gigantic – a huge exchange in which 401 New Mexicans headed to South Korea at the same time that 400 South Koreans came to New Mexico. Read about it here.

Mayan Ruins at Palenque
Friendship Force New Mexico ambassadors and hosts during the Chiapas, Mexico, exchange in 2013 — Mayan ruins at Palenque

FFNM currently has about 100 members, and we welcome you to join us. We normally conduct at least one outbound and one inbound exchange each year. Also each year, several of our members go with other clubs for their outbound trips. It is a wonderful way to see the world and to make new friends.

Read about a typical inbound exchange here.

Read about a recent outbound exchange here.

But you don’t have to take part in exchanges to be FFNM members. We have a monthly luncheon meeting with a speaker at 11:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the Hotel Elegante in Albuquerque. The hotel is at 2020 Menaul Blvd. NE, which is just east of University Avenue on the south side of Menaul. Our buffet lunch is $14 each. To make reservations, call Cheryl Lehmberg at (972) 658-4241, leave a message at (505) 717-7821 or e-mail her at clehmft@yahoo.com.

It is important to make reservations no later than the Wednesday before each monthly meeting so that we will have enough seats and food for everyone.

The December luncheon is our holiday party with a formal sit-down service, a speaker, and normally a silent auction and a raffle. This is announced in November with all details and the price.

Find out more about FFNM on this website.
Read our current and past newsletters.
Peruse the lists of past inbound and outbound exchanges, with detailed reports on some of the most recent.
Meet our current (and past) officers.
Read about Del Valdez Honorary Lifetime Memberships.
Check out our annual reports.

About Friendship Force International

The Friendship Force was founded by Wayne Smith and introduced on March 1, 1977, by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of state governors. At that time, President Carter asked the governors to return to their states and identify volunteer leaders who would serve as state directors for the Friendship Force. Rosalyn Carter served as Honorary Chairperson until 2002.

A colorful farewell
FF Hannover had a colorful farewell celebration for the Ribeirao Preto and Sao Paulo-ABC clubs on their exchange!

FF originally involved groups ranging from 150 to 400 private citizens, known as friendship ambassadors, traveling via chartered aircraft to the partner city where a group of the same size boarded to return to the original city, hence the terminology “exchange,” the word we use still to refer to our travel programs. The visiting ambassadors were hosted in the homes of volunteer host families for a week, sharing everyday experiences and getting to know each other on a personal basis. The first FF experience involved 762 ambassadors in a simultaneous exchange between Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, and Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States.

During its first five years, a few large two-way exchanges were conducted each year. In 1982, Friendship Force travel arrangements changed from charters to one-way “exchanges” on regularly scheduled airlines, allowing greater flexibility and a reduction of group size — first to 40-80 and later to 20-25. The change in format permitted a great expansion of the program worldwide. Instead of a few large exchanges each year, there are now 250 to 300 smaller exchanges.

While the size and number of exchanges has changed dramatically since 1977, the basic Friendship Force formula is the same, with visiting ambassadors spending a week in the home of a host family. While each exchange is now in just one direction, the participating ambassadors and hosts develop a shared understanding of each other’s culture so that a true cultural exchange takes place. In many cases, the friendships established during an exchange continue for many years, with follow-up visits through later Friendship Force exchanges or through private visits.

A presentation at the 2015 Friendship Force World Conference in Vancouver.
A presentation at the 2015 Friendship Force World Conference in Vancouver.

Ryoichi Sasakawa, president of The Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, played an important role in the organization’s history. After being introduced to the Friendship Force, Sasakawa became convinced of the worthy goals of the program. Thanks to his financial gifts in the mid 1980s, The Friendship Force was able to grow into a global network of independent chapters, which are called Friendship Force clubs. The clubs are organized and led by volunteers in more than 350 communities on six continents.

In 1985, the ARMS (American-Russian Mutual Survival) program was implemented under the auspices of The Friendship Force. The endeavor encouraged the use of arms that embrace rather than arms that destroy. In May of that year a group of 10 Soviet citizens traveled to the U.S. to extend arms of friendship in Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. This was followed by a series of exchanges between the USA and the USSR, with thousands of Americans and Soviets participating. The success of the ARMS program demonstrated that the Friendship Force can be a powerful force for good in the world.

As a result of its initiatives between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Friendship Force was nominated in 1992 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to its annual series of exchanges between established Friendship Force clubs, Friendship Force International (FFI) conducts a variety of specialized programs. These include the “discover” series designed to introduce Friendship Force members to new countries and cultures, humanitarian and educational exchanges, and Friendship Festivals that include participants from many countries.

Since its founding in 1977, The Friendship Force has brought together millions of people. Today it is are active in 70 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of home hosting, or exchanges.

Friendship Force International is supported by membership, exchange fees, donations, and foundation grants.

For more information about what Friendship Force International is doing today, visit The Friendship Force website.

Read more about the Carters and The Friendship Force.

Join Friendship Force New Mexico (print this page and mail it in)