Sunday, July 03, 2011

Friendship Force International

I have written before about Friendship Force (,) a cultural exchange organization that offers home stays in various places around the world. However, that was before I had a chance to experience one of their exchanges.
My recent trip to Russia was a Friendship Force exchange organized by the club in Dubuque, Iowa. Most participants were from that club, but there were also two each from Texas and Nevada, and myself from Montreal. We stayed for a week each in St. Petersburg and Irkutsk with hosts, and for another week at hotels in and near Moscow.
It was relatively inexpensive, but it was also an amazing experience. My fellow Ambassadors (as exchange members are called)were uniformly welcoming and helpful, and my hosts in both cities were very kind and generous. Although I knew none of the other Ambassadors when I began the trip, by the time I returned I felt that I had a lot of new friends.
Friendship Force offers more than 250 exchanges a year to destinations around the world, and many are open to non-members. I can recommend the group heartily, and I plan to join one of the clubs either in Montreal or elsewhere. By travelling with a group like this, you have the chance for unique experiences such as visiting an English class at a public school in Vyborg as I did, meeting high level Russians who are eager to meet you, and getting a real glimpse into the lives of Russians who do not work in tourism.
This was my first trip with FFI, but I hope it will not be my last.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home