On Sunday, Mrs. B was so kind as to take me to the Pennsylvania countryside to see the Amish, something which I’ve been wanting to do ever since I saw “For Richer or Poorer” at the age of 9. The Amish are a group of people who have rejected most modern technologies, and focus on traditional values such as family, labour, the Christian faith and a humble approach to both life and God. The Amish do not educate their children past the age of fifteen or in general pursue higher education, believing that additional knowledge beyond the basics are not necessary to the Amish way of life, which evolves mainly around farming and building. In many communities, the Amish operate their own schools, which are typically one-room schoolhouses with teachers (young unmarried women) from the Amish community in which all grades are taught together. They seek to maintain a separation from the non-Amish population.
Here is me waiting for a buggy ride to take us around the Amish country:
Me, Valerie and Mrs. B:
Our guide was Caleb, a young guy who grew up Amish, but decided to leave the Amish lifestyle in favour of going to university. It was extremely interesting hearing his story. He told us that at the age of 16, Amish teenagers go through a period called “Rumspringa” where they get the opportunity to explore life outside the Amish community. It ends once the youth chooses either baptism in order to stay with the Amish community, or leaves. If an Amish person chooses to leave, he or she will be an outcast from the Amish community forever, and may not come back. Surprisingly to many, 94 % choose to return to the Amish lifestyle, Caleb being one of the few exceptions. Now you may blame it on peer pressure etc. (being forever shunned by one’s family is a frightening prospect), however I believe we need to cut some slack and put aside our modern prejudices and ways of thinking and also realize that for many, the Amish lifestyle appears genuinely appealing. It is all about returning to a world of values and principles which existed before we were sedated by media images and the desire for commodities, finding joy and satisfaction in hard labour and strong family ties rather than in the newest issue of Cosmo or iPad2.
Caleb is currently studying at Penn State to become a vet, something his parents are very much against. According to Caleb, there is a passage in the bible saying that one should be “in the world, not of the world” – in other words, wordliness, being the opposite of humbleness, is not something someone should pursue. Funny, seeing that in mainstream society, any parents would love for their son to run off to uni to become a vet!
I feel we were extremely lucky with our guide – it was so interesting to hear about the Amish from such a unique perspective!
I would have loved to take a photo of the Amish, but as most Amish do not like being photographed, I will just show you an internet photo:
For lunch we went to a cute little village:
And got the world’s most amazing ice cream!
Such a great and educational day!