Voices from our volunteers

Mr. Turner Rich

2014 – 2015, 24 years old at that time
the United States of America

“As a member of the ARI community, I have been able to do an important thing for myself, and a fairly bigger important thing for the school. Having recently graduated university, I was eager to see the experience of rural leaders from Africa and Asia, and understand the bigger world which I knew little about. I could do this as a volunteer. Though the training is not for me, I could ask many questions, and learn so much from the Participants of ARI. This was a big part of volunteering in the ARI community. In addition, if you are interested in sustainable agriculture, there is no better teacher than the Participants. Being a volunteer helps the school on such an immense scale that you will make an impact in the volunteer work you do here. Being an ARI long-term volunteer means engaging in a world bigger than myself.”

Mrs. Kamata Sachiko

Meal Service
2010 – 2011, 66 years old at that time

“I’ve usually volunteered by taking care of the grounds at hospitals that care for the disabled and terminally ill, or making meals at small scale institutions. Once a friend introduced me to the Asian Rural Institute and I read Dr. Takami’s “Living with the Soil” and sympathized with his ideals. I knew I wanted to see ARI for myself and become a long term volunteer.

The most enjoyable part of my time at ARI has been meeting people from so many different countries. That, and it’s like a world completely different from typical Japan. Living in such a laid back atmosphere has truly been a wonderful experience. Rather than getting wrapped up in a single set of values, the entire world feels very close there. Furthermore, the agricultural Japan I remembered seeing as a child can still be found at ARI. They teach all of the nature-focused agriculture that we’re gradually starting to lose, such as raising animals and using their manure as fertilizer. After gaining this worldview over the course of my time here and experiencing the March 11, 2011, disaster, I think Japan needs to reconsider what “living with the soil” means and make appropriate changes. Isn’t that what it would mean to have a recovery, as well as a world that loves peace and nature?

Although since it was founded roughly 40 years ago it’s been a relentless challenge to manage, the fact that ARI has continued thus far makes me remember the wonder of God’s ways. After support poured in from all over the world after the earthquake, I saw an accumulation of what ARI had been cultivating all this time, and I was a filled with gratitude.

I hope you all will come and experience ARI. Volunteering here is not only fun, but also brings true joy. It’s also a good chance to get familiar with the whole world!”