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July 2015 Quick Look Azerbaijan/Georgia Exchange
Inbound Exchange - Vancouver President's Letter Upcoming Meetings
International Exchanges Member News Past Meetings
2016 Exchanges Shuttle Service Domestic Exchanges
International Conferences FFI News Club News

President's Letter

Hello everybody,

Well, now summer has come with a vengeance after all that rain. I hope you didn't have too many soggy experiences.

Summer is for travelling, isn't it? And many of our group are doing just that. Just don't forget to catch up with us with this newsletter and happy travels to all of you.

We have, might I say, a massive group of 19 club members going to the International Conference in Vancouver at the end of August! Wow, what a showing! To whet your appetites, Mary Williams is doing a presentation at the next club meeting on Saturday, July 11th on what to see and do in Vancouver. Mary has been there several times and has a lot of useful information to impart. Note that this meeting is to be on a Saturday as it'll be at the Renner-Frankford Public Library, a Dallas Public Library, which is not open on a Sunday. It'll be interesting to hear your opinions about the change of day.

The August meeting will be Sweet and Savoury on the second Sunday of the month. I have four hosts lined up, including myself, so call or email me if you want to attend. A flier will come out later in July.

We have an Inbound exchange from Vancouver September 17th- 24th for which Pat Andeweg is the ED, so contact her if you can help her out. We depend so greatly on volunteers in this group, as you can tell.

Hope to see many of you soon and safe travels to those of you who'll be here and gone

In friendship,


Azerbaijan/Georgia Exchange
by Mary Williams

After a year in the planning, a group of 25 ambassadors made its way to Azerbaijan for a week’s tour, then home stay in Baku followed by a week’s homestay in Tbilisi, Georgia and a week’s tour in the Republic of Georgia. Eleven were from Dallas, seven from other parts of the U.S., one from Canada, one from New Zealand and five from Australia. Participants from Dallas were Exchange Director Zia Shamsy, Isabella Iverson, Gerry Arens, Jackie and Michael Wald, Charlene Clements, Elizabeth Umana, Jim Kerr, Mary Williams, and Niki and Eli Baron.


Our tagline of “Changing the way you see the world” was certainly applicable in this part of the world, one of the oldest places where people have ever lived. In fact, evidence of the long history of this region was one thing that impressed me most on this trip. We visited 10,000 year –old petroglyphs, a cave city inhabited from 3000 BCE, and museums with evidence of civilizations going back to the stone and bronze ages. Even small local museums were full of artifacts from the ancient past. We were further educated about more recent history at the National Museum in Tbilisi and at the Stalin Museum in Gori regarding World War I, the rise of Stalin, communism and its impact on the region.

The city of Baku, Azerbaijan, rivaled Paris with grand boulevards, parks, and a city center pedestrian area lined with the latest shops and restaurants. Gearing up for the 2015 European games, Baku built a state-of-the-art airport and sports complex and spruced up the city for tourists. An interesting Old Town charmed us. We loved the modern art museum and carpet museum. Away from the center remained crumbling Soviet-era apartment buildings, unpaved streets, poor construction, pollution in the air and in the Caspian Sea, lack of Western amenities such as dependable hot water, Western style toilets, enclosed showers, trash pickup, paved streets, ability to use credit cards, etc. We had host changes, schedule adjustments, lost time in waiting, closed attractions and sometimes uncertain lodgings and meals. Most hosts in Baku did not own cars and used public transportation or taxis – or walked. Retirees could not survive on their meager pensions and worked part time. A different way of life.

In southern Azerbaijan we visited Masalli and Lankaran where we were considered official visitors to sites there (mostly monuments to past-President Heydar Aliev), and were given a police escort and official luncheon. We visited old Sheki in the northern mountains – the Khan Palace, a silk factory and carpet-making factory for which the country is famous. Oil in the region was known centuries ago as mountains burned and gas seeping from holes in the ground ignited. We visited some of these areas, as well as beautiful mosques and palaces.

Georgia was greener and more scenic. Tbilisi also had an interesting Old Town and many historic attractions, including an outdoor museum of typical Georgian buildings and artifacts. We participated in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Tbilisi club with a fancy dinner and Georgian dancers. Visits to Gori, Borjomi (spa city), Prometheus Cave, Uplistsikhe cave city, Khaheti wine-growing region with winery and pottery tours, and the northern border of the country in the Caucasus mountains were included in our travel week, with stops at a number of prominent Georgian Orthodox churches – some dating back nearly 1000 years. Charming old Georgian buildings, craft items, local markets and parks, pot-holed roads and Georgian/Azer food and wine reminded us we were not at home.

We met many wonderful hosts, families and their friends and for the most part had very successful homestays. The weather was near-perfect – in the 70s with showers only at night or while we were on our bus. Our group was quite congenial and we had many enjoyable moments. Photos and stories from the exchange will be shared at our September meeting. Hope you will all come Sept 13th. Despite some challenges, we had an interesting Friendship Force experience.

Isabella Iverson and Ramiye Talibova

See http://www.baku2015.com/video/article/baku-2015-european-games-opening-ceremony-highlights-39728.html


Upcoming Meetings

July Meeting – Visit Vancouver

Mary Williams will present a photo-trip presentation about beautiful British Columbia in July. Note that we will meet on SATURDAY this month in order to use the Renner-Frankford Library (located at 6400 Frankford Rd just east of Preston Road). Time - 3 pm July 11th.

Mary has visited Vancouver several times to visit her sister and has some beautiful photos to show us and suggestions of places to visit if you are going that way. We are not able to serve food at the Library, but those wishing to have dinner together afterwards can do so at one of the many restaurants across the street. There is no charge for this rogram and no reservations are needed - just come.

Date/Time: SATURDAY July 11, 3 pm
Place: Renner-Frankford Library, 6400 Frankford Rd, Dallas 75252
Program: “Visit Vancouver” - Presenter Mary Williams
Food: No food, but optional dinner out afterwards – each pay own tab
Cost: No cost. No reservations needed – just come

August Meeting - Savory/Sweet Sampler

Sunday August 9th, 3-5 PM
Small groups in homes
No charge
Bring your family’s ethnic specialty, snack, appetizer, or sweet to share – or try out a recipe from a new cookbook. Contact Felicity Sentance by Aug. 2nd - preferably by e-mail at fsentance@gmail.com to reserve your place


Past Meetings

May – Ethnic Dinners Out

In May members dined at their choice of two ethnic restaurants: Cafe Greek and El Fenix. Thanks to Sharri McIntosh for making those arrangements.

June Meeting - Myanmar

Our guest from Myanmar, Tin Aung Moe, presented an interesting program on that country at the June meeting, held at Best Thai. Moe explained the history of the country with various takeovers, twists and turns and where Myanmar stands now. He also showed some of the sights to see in this ancient country. Moe was the tour guide for an Australian Discover Exchange that Jim Kerr attended. Our thanks to Moe for the presentation and to Jim Kerr for hosting him in Dallas and assisting with his visa requirements.


Raymond Enstam, International Exchange Coordinator

International Exchange Update

Our Outbound exchange for 2015 to Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku, Azerbaijan has now returned after a safe and successful trip.

Our remaining Inbound will be from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada October 17 to 24, 2015 and is looking good; we expect 13 people. Since the International Conference of Friendship Force International will be in Vancouver at the end of August 2015 and many of us will be attending that, this inbound is of special significance. The Exchange Director for this exchange is Pat Andeweg. If you would like to volunteer to work on the committee for this exchange, or simply know more about it, please contact Pat at pja72@sbcglobal.net.

International Exchanges for 2016

We now have our exchanges for 2016. We have an Inbound from the Nor Peru club (located in Trujillo, Peru) and an Outbound to Santiago, Chile.

The inbound from Nor Peru will be Feb 1 to 7, 2016. Felicity Sentance has been appointed the Exchange Director. For questions or to volunteer please contact Felicity at fsentance@gmail.com..

The Outbound exchange to Santiago, Chile will be April 20 to 27, 2016. The club in Santiago has limited hosting and can host only 15. It will be followed by a week in the Peruvian Amazon, starting with two nights in Iquitos, Peru and then three nights at the Tahuayo Lodge deep in the Amazon rainforest. Ray Enstam has been appointed Exchange Director for this exchange. For more information please contact him at enstam@sbcglobal.net.. See a more detailed exchange description on the Exchange page if you are interested.

We are also offering some additional exchanges for 2016 or 2017 that are being planned by two of our members with contacts in other countries. Michael Wald is leading an Outbound to Panama in January of 2016. He has already led two Outbound exchanges to Panama and has many contacts there. These exchanges involve working with the people in Panama to form a new club in Santiago. It's not too late to register, but time is getting short! See a flyer here.

Finally, in addition, Haiya Naftali has contacts in Israel and is working to create both an Inbound and an Outbound exchange with Israel. Israel already has a Friendship Force club and the members of that club are very interested in working out the exchanges with Dallas. Haiya would welcome any help or will answer any questions about the plans. It is too early to have dates, so stay tuned! We could have an active year or two.

Ray Enstam, International Exchange Coordinator:


Domestic Exchanges

Georgetown TX has obtained a provisional FF charter and has launched the first US club in 10 years! Assisting with the well-attended launch on May 30 were edward perez and Paula Rose FF Dallas, Joy Huntington and Jean Porter of FF Houston and Mary Mwambay from FFI staff. Already the new Georgetown club has 60 members! The guests from Dallas, Houston and FFI Atlanta enjoyed a very nice weekend of home hosting in addition to being present at the launch meeting where they answered questions and made presentations about FF. We will host them for a weekend - November 13-15. Contact Paula Rose (when she returns in July) to volunteer - paularose2000@hotmail.com.

IWe expect to welcome Columbia-Cascade Club in 2016 for a return visit (we visited them last year). We know that they are interested in going to the Texas State Fair, so the exchange will probably occur in early October of 2016. Contact Patty Niemeyer, Domestic Exchange Coordinator, if you are interested in being the Exchange Director. peanutpatti1@verizon.net.

Please suggest to Patty any other U.S. clubs who might be interested in an mutual exchange with the Dallas club. Contact her at: peanutpatti1@verizon.net.



Join Exchanges with Other Clubs

Remember that you are welcome to join other clubs on their exchanges if there is room. Please contact clubs well in advance, as an exchange may cancel if the Exchange Director doesn’t know about your interest.

See where some clubs are going on the Other Clubs page.


International Conferences

2015 International Conference

The Conference August 28-31, 2015 is full. Nineteen Dallas members plan to attend and participate in some post-conference fun. Delegates are: Mary Latham, Lee Latham, Raymond Enstam, Isabella Iverson, Patty Niemeyer, Maxine Bearden, Mary Williams, Paula Rose, edward perez, Zia Shamsy, Cathy Ignatin, Sandy Kaiser, Roger Kaiser, Sharri McIntosh, Leyla Akgerman, Jacki Kiether, Peggy Benton, Ken Walker and Haiya Naftali.

(If you don’t see your name on this list and are registered for the Conference, contact Ruth Barrow for your official delegate letter. If you are on the list, you will receive your letter soon.)


2016 International Conference - Marrakech, Morocco

UPDATE: Dates are October 3 - 5, 2016, at the Kenzi Farah Hotel. (Plan to arrive on October 2 in order to fully participate.)


Member News

Dale Klosterman is the recipient of a new pacemaker and is doing well.
Hilda Klosterman is still dealing with pain from hip surgery and associated complications.
Bill Pierce is pursuing alternative treatments for cancer and is feeling better.
Carolyn McMurray is recovering from her third hip replacement.
Let Cathy Ignatin know if someone needs some sunshine, or a card.

Paula Rose and edward perez are traveling in Spain and Turkey this summer - edward's retirement dream trip.

Please add to your yearbook these members who have rejoined:
Juliette Clarke-Cain and Robert Cavanaugh

Francis Morin


Club News


Send your news to the Newsletter Editor daleklost@gmail.com.


Let Cathy Ignatin know who needs a card or a call.

Shuttle Service

Remember to support our airport shuttle service. The passenger(s) make a donation of $25 per ride ($30 north of Plano), helping our club. See page 42 in the Yearbook for detailed information or to be a driver. Or, just go to ffdallas-shuttle@googlegroups.com

If you would like to be a shuttle driver, send an email to edward perez (erperez@acm.org) and he'll add you to the list. Take this opportunity to help out your club while meeting and learning about your fellow club members. You are not obligated to handle every request, but please do what you can. We need more drivers.


FFI News

Resignation of Joy DiBenedetto
Saturday, May 30, 2015
A letter to members from Cecile Latour, Chair of the FFI Board of Directors announced the resignation of FFI’s President & CEO Joy DiBenedetto.

“I am writing to inform you of our CEO Joy DiBenedetto’s decision to leave Friendship Force International to pursue her own path and set her own pace. I regret her departure, as never before have I met a person more dedicated to an organisation, more connected to our mission of friendship, and more energized by the prospect to put FFI into the limelight.

Joy joined us two years ago with a wealth of fresh ideas that made her the icon of change many had been asking for. She connected with people instantly. She so wanted to make Friendship Force relevant to the next generation and to bring the organisation into the modern world of online social interaction. This will be her legacy: she opened minds to possibilities. She stretched our minds so that they will never shrink back to their original dimensions. The journey will continue without her and we will find our own pace, but we should stay true to our destination. Change must come to FFI. We all care too passionately about Friendship Force to shorten our horizon.

To ease the transition for everyone, Joy will stay in place as CEO until October 30, 2015. After that date, if the new CEO is not already in place, the Atlanta team can keep things going with the Board’s guidance on major issues. …As for the search for a new CEO, Bob Duncan, Vice-Chair of the Board and known to you as the chief organizer of the New Orleans conference, will lead this effort.

…I know that Joy leaves with a heavy heart. Her life commitment to peace and friendship dovetailed perfectly with Friendship Force. I thank Joy for her spirited contribution to Friendship Force. I wish her happiness and fulfillment wherever she goes.

Cecile Latour, Chair, FFI Board of Directors

FFI E-mail list

If you are no longer receiving monthly FFI emails, you can sign back up
through the Sign Up link on the FFI website: https://app.e2ma.net/app2/audience/signup/79801/21753/?v=a

More Hosting Availability

The Friendship Force staff is excited about a new partnership with Homestay.com. Homestay.com brings together travelers and hosts, giving them the online tools to arrange homestays. Like us at Friendship Force, they believe that travel should bring people together, making the world a friendlier, more peaceful place. Here are five reasons we’re so excited to partner with Homestay.com!

1. More home hosting in more places. By partnering with Homestay.com, we will be able to offer a more Friendship Force-like homestay experience in more cities and countries around the world, more quickly. Furthermore, in places where we have limited availability, Homestay.com hosts can provide additional hosting alongside our existing clubs, allowing us to grow our exchange capacity.
2. A shared commitment to safe, friendly, people-to-people travel.
Like Friendship Force, Homestay.com cares deeply about vetting, security, and orienting participants to a greater mission of global good; and we believe we will find a safe and satisfying partnership in our activities together.
3. A private web platform just for Friendship Force – coming soon!
In addition to their general services, the Homestay.com team is working on tools that will be available just for FF members. You’ll be able to sign up there if you’re willing to host other FF members on their private travels. And the next time you’re traveling on your own, you can use Homestay.com to find a Friendship Force member to host you, too!
4. More opportunities for you to travel and host in the way you love.
If you choose to sign up as a host on Homestay.com, you will enjoy more opportunities to welcome visitors from around the world into your home, bridging cultures, generations and ideas.
5. Sharing the mission of friendship.
Partnering with Homestay.com will allow our many Friendship Force members to make connections with a whole new community of like-minded people. Homestay.com has 18,000 active hosts around the world who all love the personal connections they make through home hospitality.

We ask that if you are interested in exploring or using the Homestay.com website, please access it via the link on the FFI homepage. This link, which say "Friendship Force" in the address, helps Homestay.com identify you as a member of the Friendship Force.


Contact Information
Postal address: P. O. Box 551151, Dallas, TX 75355
Phone and fax: 214- 699-7574 
Electronic mail
General Information: friendshipforcedallas@yahoo.com
Webmaster: mwilliamstxtravel@yahoo.com