Amish Once Removed: New Educational Horizons
It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I announce an upcoming symposium called “Amish Once Removed: New Educational Horizons” that will be held next summer at the Young Center at Elizabethtown College.
Some time ago, I was brainstorming with Steve Nolt, Director at the Young Center, about the possibility of having a group of former Amish who have sought a college education get together to discuss how we made it through college and what we have done with our lives since leaving our respective communities. Now this idea is becoming a reality. I am grateful to Steve Nolt for offering to host this event at the Young Center next summer.
The symposium is taking place on June 8, 2024. It has been decided not to open this to the public so that we can contain the costs for attendees. Instead, this will be by invitation for those who have earned a college education, are earning one, or are interested in earning one, along with their significant others. If you fit this criteria, or if you know of someone who does, I’d love to know about it, so that I can send you/them invitations. We want to be as inclusive as possible, yet we “Amish once removed” are scattered far and wide. Knowing who may want to be invited is the challenge, so your help is appreciated.
For those of you who have left your Amish community and are going to college or are thinking about doing so, I hope you know about the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund that offers grants to former Amish students. Freeman Miller, Emma Miller and/or Naomi Kramer will be offering a presentation at the symposium. Also, I will be publishing series of stories from former Amish who have sought higher education. I will begin with Emma Miller and Naomi Kramer, founders of the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund.
The number of students applying for grants from the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund are in decline from previous years. It is a huge step to go from an eighth-grade education to college, yet it has been done. I hope to provide several good examples to inspire more Amish once removed to consider a college education, and to reach out for a helping hand to ensure success in college.
I will never forget my very first class at Smith College. It was astronomy, and the professor had put up a slide on an overhead projector of a child sitting on a sandy beach. He started the class by saying that there are more galaxies in the universe than there are grains of sand on earth. He also said that scientists today do not know whether the universe is finite or infinite, though there are an infinite number of mysteries in the universe.
As I tried to absorb these concepts, I had the feeling that my mind was expanding to make room for the incredible ideas I was being exposed to. I also felt that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing, in that place at that time. My lifelong dream of continuing my education was finally being realized.
The goal of this symposium is to inspire others to take the leap from an eighth-grade education, often in a parochial school like my own:
To earning a college degree. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
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Sounds like a great idea! I would really like to hear about how and what the “once removed” are now living and how they managed to find their way in the new world.
Thank you, Marye. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. So glad you’re still stopping by. Yes, lots of stories to come. Stay tuned.
Yours is a lovely story!
My forebears on my father’s side were Mennonites, driven from Switzerland, drawn to Germany, Ukraine (Lemberg/Lviv), then Minnesota and finally to a distant ranch in Colorado where there were no churches for miles! My grandparents died early so my dad was raised by his older siblings who insisted he be the one who was to go to the University of Denver.
I followed his academic path and went to Dartmouth, a stone’s throw from your alma mater! I’m 91 now and have had a wonderful life. Many children, many travels, many books written and a love of good people like yourself. My thanks to you and our world.
Rodger, what a lovely synopsis of your life/forbears. There is so much gratitude in the few lines you wrote, and it is heartwarming. My thanks goes right back to you.
Education is a lifelong process, and in recent years so-called nontraditional students have entered universities. I earned my MA at 50 and can tell you that I came into the process with a hunger I didn’t have at 22, when I received a BA. I also found that, in the intervening three decades, the advanced educational system had opened to include so many more perspectives (women, minorities, etc.), not just the “dead white male’s” (Obviously I studied humanities.) Anyway, I hope some intrepid individuals, young or not so young, step forward to enrich their lives. I ended up teaching, which I had never dreamed of doing. God put me where He wanted to, when He wanted to. He will with others also, I pray.
Celia, sounds like you have pluck! Good for you for earning your MA. I was a month away from 50 when I graduated from Smith. And like you, I savored every bit of my education in a way that I wouldn’t have had I been “born into it.”
I have the same prayer for those who want to enrich their lives through education. Thank you for stopping by and for your comments.
Should be a fascinating conference.
I hope you get many attendees.
Do the attendees have to go directly from being Amish to college, or can the person have gone from being Amish to attending a more liberal church before going to college?
Esther, why ever did I not think of you when I sent out invitations. Here you are a close friend!
Because you grew up Amish with only an eighth-grade education, it doesn’t matter how you got to where you are now. You are absolutely eligible. I’ll send you an invitation.