On Sunday, September 5, Somerset Friendship Force club will be welcoming a party of 12 visitors from the Friendship Force of Shizouka in Japan who will be staying in members' home for a week while they discover Somerset.
The Somerset club has laid on a full programme for the visitors and their hosts, including visits to Wells, Bath, Lorna Doone country, the Willows and Wetlands Centre, and much more. During their visit the ambassadors from Japan will experience local culture, hospitality and food.
While at the same time new long term friendships will be being formed, building bonds between Somerset and Shizouka.
Friendship Force International (FFI) is a non-profit international cultural exchange organisation which was founded in 1977 with a single mission: to create an environment in which personal friendships are established across the barriers that separate people.
Since it was founded in 1977 Friendship Force has grown into an international organisation with clubs in more than 60 countries, and half a million volunteer ambassadors and hosts have participated in over 3,000 exchanges, touching the lives of more than two million people. In 1992 FFI was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2010 the Somerset club have already hosted a party visiting from New Zealand and in October a group of 18-20 members will be travelling to the east coast of the USA to spend a week visiting Friendship Force members in the Hudson Valley in New York State followed by a week in Charlottesville,Virginia.
The Somerset club is already thinking ahead to 2011 when members will be hosting visitors from Canada and Chile, and be travelling to Belgium and to wine growing areas in California and Oregon.