Amer­i­can friends visit the Manawatu

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - News - SAM KILMIS­TER

Con­ver­sa­tion and laugh­ter filled the home of a Manawatu Friend­ship Force mem­ber where a group from the United States were farewelled.

Founded in 1977 in the US, Friend­ship Force In­ter­na­tional boasts 377 clubs in 60 coun­tries.

It aims to pro­mote in­ter­na­tional un­der­stand­ing and peace through peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing each other’s life­styles, cul­tures and hopes for the fu­ture.

Manawatu re­cently hosted a group of Amer­i­cans for six days where they took to the Manawatu, do­ing bush walks, farm vis­its, fac­tory tours, mu­se­ums, art gal­leries and pic­nics.

Manawatu pres­i­dent Ste­wart Picken said the Manawatu club was formed in 1986 and is one of 21 in New Zealand. The club has 50 mem­bers.

‘‘Mem­bers make a com­mit­ment to, within their means, host for a week or be­come day hosts. [They] host small sim­ple group din­ners and par­tic­i­pate in planned ac­tiv­i­ties,’’ Picken said.

‘‘Ev­ery year an over­seas trip is planned and one or two groups are wel­comed to the Manawatu.

‘‘Mem­bers are able to travel, not only with their own club, but with any clubs around the world so have a wide choice of des­ti­na­tions.

‘‘Vis­i­tors from one club are hosted by mem­bers of an­other club with the idea that true un­der­stand­ing can de­velop by see­ing a dif­fer­ent area through the eyes of its lo­cal in­hab­i­tants.’’

Mem­bers of the Manawatu club had vis­ited coun­tries through­out Asia, Europe, South and North Amer­ica and parts of Africa, Picken said.

They have stayed with Mus­lims in Indonesia and Jews in Is­rael. They have stayed in com­mu­nist and cap­i­tal­ist coun­tries, and mod­ern tra­di­tional so­ci­eties.

Picken said they had felt their way through foreign lan­guages by us­ing signs and laugh­ter.

‘‘Many of the friend­ships last for years, of­ten in­volv­ing a re­cip­ro­cal visit. There is no bet­ter way to con­nect with peo­ple than by hav­ing fun to­gether.’’

The In­ter­na­tional Friend­ship Force of­fice is in At­lanta.

About 90 per cent of mem­bers are older than 50.

Picken said mem­bers think­ing of join­ing should be in­ter­ested in other cul­tures, be friendly, flex­i­ble and like to have fun.

The Friend­ship force helps to cut costs such as ac­com­mo­da­tion.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

From left; Tom and Peggy Best from the United States, El­iz­a­beth Picken and pres­i­dent of Manawatu Friend­ship Force Ste­wart Picken.

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