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Graduate’s First Steps Story: Grace, Rwanda, 2022

This week, ARI and American Friends of ARI are fundraising for rural leaders to travel to ARI, with our Little by Little fundraising matching campaign on GlobalGiving. Read our story and consider supporting them with a donation.

Spring marks a new class of participants at ARI. Rural leaders are preparing for their journey to Japan.  For some ARI participants, this is their first time on a plane. Others travel more than a thousand miles to attend the Rural Leaders Training Program in Tochigi, Japan, leaving their families and community work behind for 9-months. Each day this week, we’ll highlight stories from graduates about their travels to ARI.

Rural leaders, like Grace from Rwanda, do this for the betterment of their communities. Here is Grace’s story of her travel to the Asian Rural Institute.

When my sending body first told me that I was selected to go to Japan for the Rural leaders training program, l was so surprised. On the day that l left my home, l was both happy and nervous because it was the first time to leave my community and to fly in an airplane. I anticipated the two-day flight to be very difficult.  When I arrived at Narita airport, I was not able to use my phone, so I was unable to communicate with the ARI staff members picking me up. I was so nervous. Fortunately, I sat next to a man who knew who was picking me up and assured me that they will come shortly.  I learned from this experience that there is always a helping hand ready to assist you if you face any challenges in your travel.

Transportation is the most significant barrier to attending the Rural Leaders Training Program, yet it is the first step to achieving both personal growth and community transformation that lasts for generations. ARI and AFARI invites you to join our Global campaign to help ensure that all ARI participants have the funds available to take that first step. Join us in helping a new class of ARI participants start their journey of transformation.

If you would like to support rural leaders like Grace, please consider donating to our campaign.

The End of the Previous Academic Year and the Beginning of a New One

The first group of 15 rural leaders learning at ARI this year arrived on campus this week!

The campus, which had been quiet since the commencement ceremony for 2023 Graduate Interns and Training Assistant in February, has come back to life.

Participants, volunteers, and staff members will form a community circle this year, and the opening ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 13.

In the 2024 academic year, 20 Participants from overseas, one Japanese Participant, and one Training Assistant will participate in the rural leadership training program.

Tomoko Arakawa, Director of ARI, writes an editorial for Shimotsuke Shimbun, “Considering Japan’s Food Self-Sufficiency”

Tomoko Arakawa, our Director, has joined the writing team of a local newspaper, Shimotsuke Shimbun Sunday Editorial Board for the six months from this February.

The first time she wrote an editorial titled “Toward a Society Where Foreigners and Japanese Can Live Together in Harmony.” The subject of this time’s issue was “Thinking about Japan’s Food Self-Sufficiency.

Food is life. Why don’t you first calculate your own food self-sufficiency ratio today? You will discover many things by knowing the security of your own life.

– Excerpt from “Considering Japan’s Food Self-Sufficiency”

Arakawa considers Japan’s food self-sufficiency and talks about how food is life.

ARI’s work with agriculture and food is called “Foodlife”. The reason for this is that “food” and “life” are inseparable.

ARI is thinking about “Food Sovereignty”. Food sovereignty, as we see it, is the right to decide for oneself what food to put in one’s mouth, what to grow, what to eat, and how to live.

Participants learn about the importance of food sovereignty through self-sufficiency practices and training programs.

By accumulating “practical knowledge” on how to effectively utilize resources generated from farms and barns without waste, participants learn know-how that they can apply in their own rural communities.

Working together with others to accomplish what one cannot do alone, i.e., to fill one’s stomach while being needed by others, to nurture human dignity, and eventually to bring peace through mutual respect. Thus, through the practice of “foodlife,” “peace from the soil” is instilled in our participants.

Valuing life and its diversity as it circulates in nature, we create, cook, and share healthy food and give thanks daily for its bounty.

While loving God, people, and nature, we will sweat together to cultivate the soil and learn together through the practice of food self-sufficiency, including food sovereignty, climate justice, and disaster resilient agriculture.

ARI Director Tomoko Arakawa editorial appears in local newspaper Shimotsuke Shimbun, “Toward a Society Where Foreigners and Japanese Can Live Together in Harmony”

Starting today, ARI Director Tomoko Arakawa will join the writing team of the local Shimotsuke Shimbun Sunday Editorial Members for the next six months.

The first issue is an editorial titled “Toward a Society Where Foreigners and Japanese Can Live Together in Harmony”. She talks about how we should treat foreigners not as “gaijin” but as equal human beings, starting with looking them in the eye and greeting them.

For more details, see the article. If you live in Tochigi prefecture, look forward to the next issue.

ARI Director Tomoko Arakawa will be writing for the “Sunday Editorial” section of the regional newspaper Shimotsuke Shimbun

The Shimotsuke Shimbun, a local Japanese newspaper, publishes a “Sunday Editorial” every Sunday on its General and Editorial pages.
Tomoko Arakawa, the director of ARI, will join the writing team half a year0.
The first issue will be on Sunday, February 11.

This year she also write a book about ARI in Japanese.

ARI Director Tomoko Arakawa’s book “Seeking Knowledge for Living Together – From ARI’s Window” is now available for order.
The book is available at the following special price if you order it from ARI.
Please contact ARI to place your order.
(+81) 0287-36-3111
Regular price 1,200 yen (tax not included), but only for the year 2023
50th anniversary price 1,000 yen (tax included, shipping not included)

Biography of Tomoko Arakawa
Born in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.
Graduated from International Christian University with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and M.A. from Michigan State University.
After working as a junior high and high school teacher, she joined ARI in 1995.
She has been ARI Director since 2015.

Thank you for your support in 2023🎊

Merry Christmas! How are your holidays this year?
ARI hosted a Christmas party for our community members. We played bingo, exchanged gifts, and had a pageant, ARI style.

We have only a few more days left in 2023.
For our 50th anniversary, we held a commemorative ceremony and fundraising. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the many people who supported us and helped us celebrate our 50th anniversary.
We were also able to enjoy a vibrant communal life, with conversations without masks and a fully open dining hall.
As we approach the end of the year 2023, a new year is upon us.
We hope that you will continue to support us as we share this graceful learning place with more people and continue to sow seeds of peace in the world.
We wish you a very happy New Year!

Community event -snow viewing-

On December 7, before the participants go back to their community, after their final presentations, all community members including ARI staff and volunteers went to Mt.Chausu in Nasu to see the snow.
Many participants came from tropical countries, and some were playing in the snow for the first time! They had a great time throwing snow each other, lying on the fluffy snow, building snowmen, and so on!
Now that this year’s participants have graduated, they are ready to work on to their own communities. Please remember them in your prayers this Christmas season. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Request for 2023 Christmas Special Donations

Your Seeds of Hope empower the dreams of rural leaders worldwide.

ARI participants in the class of 2023 celebrated their graduation ceremony on Saturday, December 9, and returned to their home countries with their dreams in their hearts. Your support will become Seeds of Hope that will be carried with the graduates to the rural areas in each country, and their work will create hope for more and more people.

As Christmas approaches, we invite you to entrust your Seeds of Hope with ARI’s enthusiastic participants.

Your donation will be used to help ARI participants from Asia, Africa, and other countries pay their travel and tuition fees, as well as monthly living expenses such as dormitory fees and food. We ask for your support for ARI’s work to develop grassroots rural development servant leaders, creating broad impact around the world.

Donations can be made by individuals, churches, or schools.

Please donate via the Christmas Special Donation page:

Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration

Watch all our online events again! ​

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