FF International

Friendship Force International

The main objective of the Friendship Force is to create an environment where personal friendships may be established between individuals despite the international barriers of distance, race and language that separate people.




As a member of The Friendship Force
I recognise that I can make a difference.
I recognise that I have a mission.
That mission is to be a friend
to the people of the world.
As I embark upon this adventure,
I know that others will be watching me.
I know that through my example to my own
fellow citizens and the people of other nations,
the cause of friendship, love and peace
will be furthered.



A Brief History of the Friendship Force

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 a volunteer leader who would serve as State Director for the Friendship Force in their state. Rosalyn Carter served as Honorary Chairperson until 2002.

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.

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 250-300 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. 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.

The Friendship Force was nominated in 1992 for The Nobel Peace Prize, as a result of FF initiatives between the United States and the Soviet Union which developed into a series of exchanges involving thousands of American and Soviet participants.

Since its founding in 1977, The Friendship Force has brought together millions of people. Today we are active in more than 60 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of home hosting, or journeys.

The term 'Exchange' has also been renamed to 'Journey'.