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2019 FFI World Conference Wrap-Up

More than 430 delegates from 23 countries had a great time learning and socializing at the 2019 World Conference in Boulder, CO, USA!

With the majestic Flatiron mountain range as a scenic backdrop, a total of 432 Friendship Force delegates from 23 countries participated in Friendship Force’s 41st World Conference, held on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder from July 23 to 26.

The conference was joint-hosted by the Friendship Force clubs of the Rocky Mountain Region. “We want to welcome all to our beautiful region,” declared Sue Palmer, the regional Field Representative. “This week will be full of opportunities to participate in activities, socialize, and learn. Our hope is that you will return home with a feeling of revitalization.”

And what a week it was! The Colorado Friendship Force clubs are to be congratulated on hosting and helping to coordinate such an action-packed week that included numerous outdoor activities in a state known for its vast mountains, lakes, and rivers.

In our traditional ceremony, the World Conference Host Cup was passed to Sue and the Rocky Mountain Region by Andrew Kelly of Manchester, UK, as the 2017 hosts of our World Conference.

We were honored to be welcomed to Boulder by the Honorable Suzanne Jones, Mayor of Boulder, who closed out her inspiring welcoming speech with these simple words: “The world needs you!”


Friendship Force International President and CEO Jeremi Snook inspired us with an exciting look into the future that included:

  • plans for significant growth in the number of clubs and travel opportunities
  • outreach to both our traditional and younger demographics,
  • translation of all FFI materials into the eight most widely-used languages
  • a more effective use of technology
  • a more efficient and interactive communication with our global membership.

He captivated us with a heartwarming personal story about locating a distant relative in Belize with the help of a stranger-turned-friend.

Click here to watch Jeremi’s opening address to the conference delegates.

View Jeremi’s PowerPoint presentation here. 

Dr. Michael D. English, the Core Instructor for the Peace, Conflict, and Security Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, motivated us to grow the influence of Friendship Force around the world because, “Relationships are catalysts for peace. In this era of polarization, we must reduce the gaps between us!”

Dr. English, who holds a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, cited studies, research, and historical data concluding that “positive memories of other groups during a conflict help in resolution of the conflict.” That is, individuals who know each other are less likely to endure a protracted conflict. Of course, he observed, the converse is so true: peoples who do not know each other and do not understand each other are more likely to suffer more protracted conflicts.

“The Contact Theory shows the power of citizen diplomacy,” he declared.

View Dr. English’s presentation here. 


  • Outstanding Volunteer of the Year: Don Titterton, FF Albany, Western Australia (accepted by FFI Board Chair Bobbie Mulholland, pictured) 

Two years ago, Don Titterton and his partner, Rosalie, began work on a Global Biodiversity Journey to Southwestern Australia. Unfortunately, part way through the planning, Rosalie passed away and Don was left not only to grieve, but also to carry out their vision along with the assistance of the Albany club. This involved complex public relations, planning and negotiations with the local Indigenous people, as well as calling on experts in the fields of geology, recent history, botany and fauna. In October 2018, the final result was a very successful journey with ambassadors from all over the world … and a dream realized. Most of the ambassadors had not experienced eco-tourism before, and the diversity of the Australian landscape, the spectacular scenery, the beautiful native flora and fauna, and the importance of the ancient geological discoveries left the visitors spellbound. Ambassadors were also given insights into the aboriginal culture and the impact of colonization in the region. Locally, the Albany Club supported this venture and organized many meals, hosted, and drove many miles, but it was Don’s enthusiasm, charm, and insight into the local biodiversity which made this Journey such a resounding success and resulted in growth for his local club. Numerous letters from the ambassadors have been printed in the local press, congratulating him on his efforts and innovation in promoting such a fascinating program.

  • Outstanding Club of the Year: FF Greater Sacramento, California, USA (accepted by club president, Helen Flach)

This club has developed a Best Practices Process for running their club that has led to its continued success and exponential growth. In 2017 their membership grew by 21 members, and in 2018 grew by 28 members. Some of their best practices include promoting Friendship Force at local travel Meet-Ups, multiple fundraising projects, building camaraderie, providing training for members, hosting regional and super-regional conferences, successfully hosting and traveling outbound on multiple domestic and international Journeys, creative use of technology through an interactive website, and utilizing creativity in member recruitment. The club has also incorporated a big push in marketing and publicity with its use of social media and blogs, while also providing presentations to other groups such as Lifelong Learning. They even train others how to use photography to tell the Friendship Force story. This list barely scratches the surface of all of the best practices the Friendship Force of Greater Sacramento is using to keep its club healthy and growing.

  • The Inaugural Charlene Terrell Lifetime Achievement Award*: Don and Elizabeth Rea (posthumously), FF Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (accepted on their behalf by members of FF Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley)

Don and Betty were instrumental in founding the Friendship Force of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, USA, in 1992. Not only was Don a founding father, but he has continued to be active within the club over the years. In 1994 Don coordinated the hosting of the Shanty Choir from Varel, Germany. With his leadership, all 72 members of the German group were hosted. Don and Betty exemplified the ideals of Friendship Force in their daily lives. From as early as 1968, Don, Betty, and their sons were joined by visitors from many countries: Jeff from Australia, Helmut from Chile, two young women from Hungary, and William, a refugee from Vietnam, who became their ‘fifth son’ changing his last name to Rea and then becoming a US citizen.

  • The Second Inaugural 2019 Charlene Terrell Lifetime Achievement Award: César Ardila (posthumously), FF Bogota, Colombia (accepted in his memory by César’s widow, Cuqui Gamboa-Ardila)

César embodied the mission of Friendship Force and dedicated nearly his entire adult life to furthering its cause on many levels. He leaves a legacy of creating friendships both at home and around the world, through his personal example and many years of Friendship Force leadership. In 1983, when he helped launch the Friendship Force of Bogota, Colombia was a country struggling with serious internal issues and suffering from an extremely poor reputation worldwide. Knowing how genuinely warm and wonderful Colombians really are, César chose to do his best to overcome that image. Simultaneously, he re-ignited Colombian citizens’ pride in themselves, showcasing the best of Colombian culture, hospitality, and ability to develop sincere and lasting relationships. His personal qualities of humor, warmth, sincerity, hard work and energetic leadership made him a role model who embodied the spirit of this award. Through his efforts as a club founder, President, Journey Coordinator (for themed and global Journeys), and an overall FFI champion, César touched so many people around the world. He won the hearts and minds of Bogota’s club members as they all helped improve Colombia’s image, one friend at a time.

* To commemorate her many contributions to the organization, including authoring the book “The Other Side of the Mountain” which chronicles the first 20 years of Friendship Force, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed after Charlene Terrell, a late member of FF Big Canoe-North Georgia, USA.


The amazing lineup of learning opportunities included enriching presentations on global outreach, new initiatives, and fine-tuning our skills and talents as ambassadors of friendship.

The sessions included:

Find all available handouts and presentations here. 


Even though we were engaged in a record number of workshops and seminars, (including major presentations during the plenary session and other times), we still had ample time for outside group activities. Many of us will recall which one of these was the most fun!

  • “Bluegrass in Boulder” Barbecue Dinner and Celebration
  • Mindfulness Seminar
  • Electric Bike Tour
  • Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour
  • Hiking Chautauqua
  • Boulder Foodie Tour
  • Farmers’ Market Tour
  • Canoeing & Nature Tour
  • “Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity”/”Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd” Fiske Planetarium
  • Morning photo walks with Rozlynn Worrall
  • Kanta Okidokitei, from Mie, Japan, performing Rakugo, the traditional Japanese art of comedy storytelling

Hear three delegates discuss the importance of Friendship Force:







View the photo gallery!


Thanks to the generous donors listed below, we were able to bring delegates from the following countries to this world conference: Bhutan, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Japan, Nepal, Russia, Sweden, Tanzania, and the USA.

Scholarship Donors: Robert Anderson, Felisa Anthony, Jane Bardon, Shirley Barker, Rita Becchetti, Ina Bornheim, Andrew Bowen, Roberta Brabec, Jacqueline Bunke, Gena Cameron, Katherine Campbell, Rita Cheek, John Christensen, Craig Cornwell, Mary Cunningham, Jo Custead, Lisa Denhartog, Gary Drescher, Constance DuBois, Leslie Eckstat, Rita English, Kathleen B. Evans, Barbara Fickes, Rose Ann Foreman, Anne Gabriel, Marilyn Garner, Mavis Grant, Stephen Hample, Kathy Herring, Janette House, Kathy Hsu, Daniel Hunsberger, Catherine Jensen, Alan Johnson, Roger Kaiser, Andrew, Kelly, Ikuko Koriyama, Debbie Lattey, J.B. MacDonald, Ramona McGee, Kimberly Means, Carolyn Meyer, Christine Michalek, Luree Miller, Susan Moyer, Bobbie Mulholland, Hiroshi Onishi, Charles Pallas, Charles Park, Marilyn Peterson, Gerry Pollatos, Thomas Scott, Nobuko Shimada, Judith Single, Christopher Smith, Julianne Smith, Aya Takado, Hiromi Tanaka, Barbara Taylor, Fay Terrell, Lynne Van Valin, Gustave Vanbellingen, Sherry Wileman, Nathan Wood, Dunwoody Woman’s Club, Friendship Force of Australia, Friendship Force of Big Canoe/North Georgia, Friendship Force of Birmingham, Friendship Force of Dallas, Friendship Force of Denver, Friendship Force of Los Angeles, Friendship Force of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Friendship Force of Oklahoma, Friendship Force of Sacramento, Friendship Force of Sarasota, and Friendship Force of Western North Carolina.


This Friendship Force World Conference was sponsored in part by the Department of Peace, Conflict and Security Studies, the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Additional thanks to:

  • Mayor Suzanne Jones
  • Dr. Michael English; Peace, Conflict and Security Program
  • Professor Bryan Taylor; Peace, Conflict and Security Program
  • Sue Palmer, FF Host Committee Chair
  • Kay Thomas, Conference Homestay Coordinator
  • Members of the Friendship Force in Colorado
  • Host families and hosting organizers in Northern Colorado, Denver, Grand Junction, Greater Cincinnati, Dallas, Pikes Peak Region, and Cheyenne

International Board of Directors in Attendance:

  • Bobbie Mulholland, Chair
  • James Permana, Treasurer
  • Christiane Beaupre
  • Chuck Goldfarb
  • Hiro Onishi
  • Lynette Hargreave
  • Marilyn Peterson

And finally, we are planning for our 2021 Global Conference to be held in Taiwan!

Begin preparing now and don’t miss it!

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