Friendship Force International is celebrating three and a half decades of history by investing in its future.
The Atlanta-based organization, which facilitates home stays and people-to-people exchanges in more than 50 countries, is starting its 35th year by opening new clubs around the world and revamping its programs.
A three-year expansion is to result in 45 clubs in both emerging and established economies, including Mexico, Japan, Colombia, Turkey and Indonesia. East Africa will also be a focus area. Clubs already exist in Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania, but plans call for new ones in Uganda and Rwanda.
The expansion would put the organization over the 400-club mark for the first time in its history.
“A million people around the world have benefited from the legacy provided by those who built the Friendship Force 35 years ago,” George Brown, the organization’s president, said in a news release. “Now, it is our turn to build for the future.”
In June, Friendship Force will also launch a program to Cuba, where U.S. travel restrictions for family members and religious, humanitarian and educational groups have recently been relaxed.
The organization will focus on providing specialized and themed exchanges, like a recent cycling tour of Canada and an exchange that allowed grandchildren and grandparents to travel together.
Friendship Force was founded by Wayne Smith and introduced by President Jimmy Carter at a White House gathering of state governors in 1977.