Since I am a single woman, would I be matched with another woman? -Yes, that is often the situation, while couples normally host another couple. There are exceptions, but it is the Ambassador Coordinator's decision. Frequently, the number of bedrooms and type of bed(s) available play a part in matching hosts and ambassadors as do interests and occupations.
Will I have the opportunity to communicate with my host or guest prior to his/her arrival? Typically, the Hosts will initially contact the Ambassador(s) by email, giving a little personal information. There is no limit on how much will be shared, but will probably include arrival and departure times.
What is a Day Host? A club member who is not home hosting, but one who takes a home host’s ambassadors for a day’s activities. This really can help the home host if they have other commitments. It allows you to experience being with people from other cultures.
What Is a Small Group Dinner? It is a small, informal, at-home dinner party for ambassadors and their home hosts given by a member who is not otherwise hosting. The dinner is hosted at his/her own expense by the club member. The Host Coordinator usually assigns the dinner guests to the host. The number of dinner guests is determined by the host. If there is room the host might invite friends or neighbors to liven up the mix.
Is there a typical itinerary? Each journey itinerary is unique, but most will combine a Friendship Force home stay with an active program of taking in the local sites. Unscheduled times or free days allow for first-hand experience about the culture by establishing a personal relationship with your hosts. There is usually a welcome party and a goodbye party where everyone meets and shares in the Journey.
What are Friendship Force clubs? Friendship Force journeys are organized through a volunteer network of near 350 chapters (clubs) in 60 countries. The clubs are connected globally through Friendship Force International (FFI), a non-profit organization with offices in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
What do you mean by “apply” to go on a trip? An experienced Friendship Force Ambassador Coordinator leads each journey. They will ask you to fill out an application prior to accepting you as a journey participant. This application process ensures that travelers are physically healthy enough to make the journey and also that they are committed to the Friendship Force mission.
Whatdoes it mean to be committed to the FF mission? FFI has a thirty-five-year history of bringing people together in friendship across the barriers that separate people. We think of ourselves as ‘citizen ambassadors’, each of us having the power to promote good relations at a personal level.
What is involved in becoming a member of The Friendship Force of Austin? Join the Friendship Force if you believe in the mission and policies of the organization; you like the challenge and excitement of new people, places and experiences; you believe that friendship among people of different countries and cultures can make for a better world; and you have a curiosity about the world and enjoy learning about cultures and ways of life.
I don’t see myself traveling in the next year or so, should I still join? Certainly, Friendship Force is not a travel club; there are many other aspects of involvement. The mission of Friendship Force is building global goodwill through personal friendships. This can be accomplished in other ways. Consider being a day or home host, a small group dinner host, or attend social activities.
Do you plan visits to clubs in the United States? Yes, there are 97 clubs in the States and clubs can arrange what are called “Domestic Journeys” with a club where there is a mutual interest in such a visit. FFI Staff can also arrange these visits.
Do you travel as a group? Yes and no; the group usually consists of 15 to 20 individuals, known as “Ambassadors.” Travel arrangements vary from departing Austin as a group to some, or all, of the individuals making their own travel arrangements and meeting at a specific location in the host city at a definite time. Some might want to use frequent flier miles, use a specific airline, or continue on to another location.
What is an “Ambassador Coordinator or Host Coordinator?” It is an individual who has applied and been approved by the Leadership Council to plan, organize, and lead either the outbound or inbound Journey. This is open to anyone who has the desired leadership qualities and can make the commitment of time needed for adequate planning and recruiting of Ambassadors with a 9 to 12-month lead-time.
How do I find out what is happening in the club? You will receive frequent e-mails about activities, new members, and journeys. Check out the local club’s website: www.ffiaustin.com, and for news on the international level, go to: www.thefriendshipforce.org and watch the “video” presented on the home page as well as the “World of Friends Catalog” of travels.
What types of Social Activities does the club have? We have monthly happy hour get-togethers after the leadership council meetings. Each quarter we have a general meeting/party where the club provides the main dish and drinks with the members bringing appetizers, salads, sides, and desserts. We have an occasional pool party and new member luncheons or dinners where we meet and greet new members. We are open for new interest groups like birding or attending concerts.
What should I expect financially when I go on an Outbound Journey? On an outbound journey, all or most of our expenses paid by the host club and their members; we pay for our own transportation to the host country and a fee to Friendship Force International for the journey ($150 per international journey); fees are paid to the host club to cover entry fees, activities, and transportation (usually between $150-250). If there is an extra tour before or after the journey arranged by our club, you would pay the cost of the tour if you choose to go. You should expect to take your host family to dinner once during the journey. You should purchase or make gifts for each member of your host family that represent your/their interests and/or your home community.
What if I am not able to go or don’t care to go on the Outbound Journey our club has scheduled? You may travel with another club from this country if they have room for you. There are Discover Trips that include people from several countries where the Ambassadors travel somewhere and stay mostly in hotels but meet people from that country to interest them in forming Friendship Force Clubs. Regional or International Conferences are held each year. See the list of journeys and events on the Friendship Force International website and look for a journey that you would like.