The purpose of the ARI Rural Leaders Training Program is to discover the meaning of the motto “That We May Live Together.” Humans, nature and all living creatures are God’s creations and we must live together on Earth; however we all know how difficult this is. Failure to live together is the cause of many problems in the world.
At the core of the Rural Leaders Training Program is the concept of Enrichment of Foodlife. Encompassing more than just producing food to alleviate hunger, Enrichment of Foodlife emphasizes the value of producing and sharing healthy food in a manner sustainable to the environment and to the community, through the cooperative efforts of the community. It stresses the importance of making the best use of locally available resources and it leads toward the development of vibrant self-reliant rural communities and villages. Through the efforts of the whole community, ARI produces most of the food we eat.
Food is the result of the joint work of God, nature and human beings. Therefore, we strongly believe that in order to value all life on Earth, sharing food is essential; by sharing food we may live together.
KEY CONCEPTS OF OUR TRAINING
The three conceptual pillars which support the ARI training are:
Servant Leadership – ARI is a place where every person can learn about himself or herself through new experiences and ideas and come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a leader who serves people.
Foodlife –is a special word used at ARI to show that food and life cannot be separated; both depend upon each other. ARI is a place that values the soil – including the farmers and rural communities that work the soil – and finds dignity and satisfaction in producing food with our own hands.
Community Building –ARI is a place where we can learn through sharing – sharing food and sharing life. We come as people of different cultures, ethnicities and faiths, choosing to live and grow together through our differences and difficulties. In our life together, we work toward the goal of becoming effective servant leaders, learning with and from one another.
The campus is located in the town of Nasushiobara in Northern Japan. Using methods of integrated organic farming, we produce most of the food we eat, including rice, wheat, soybeans, and about 60 kinds of vegetables. We also raise a variety of livestock, all on our 6 hectares (15 acres) of land.
The annual nine-month program runs from April to December, which coincides with one full agricultural cycle from spring planting to autumn harvest.
Dormitories are provided for participants and volunteers. Rooms are double occupancy, and participants share their rooms with a person from another country, or perhaps even another religion. Dormitory life is an integral part of the learning in ARI and provides many opportunities to put our motto into practice – “That We May Live Together.”
Christian in inspiration, ARI is interfaith in practice and we openly recruit people of all religions. We strive to form a community in which people of all religious backgrounds and beliefs may participate fully in order that we may both learn about one another and explore our own spirituality more deeply. We seek to create a world in which religion does not serve as a tool for dividing people, but for bringing them together.
At ARI we not only teach self sufficiency, but practice it, with the whole community taking part in producing the food we eat – from seed, to harvest, to the table. All participants take part in preparing the meals, giving participants many opportunities to discover new and exotic tastes.