After a long semester, time to do the long awaited Amish blog...
This was probably the hardest part of the blog, scheduling the appointment. After many struggles, and having to lie about my name at the Amish Interpretive Center, we were finally able to get into a tour. (Don't worry, no laws were broken in the making of this blog.)
Once again, after dreading making a 45 minute drive to do this blog, the experience was actually very rewarding and eye-opening, no matter what kind of struggles it took us to get there.
Part III.-the actual report
Upon entering Mary Yoder's, our host, home, I was instantly surprised at what the inside looked like. From the outside, the house appeared large enough, but a bit tattered on the siding of the house. However, inside was pristine. It was way cleaner than any home I had ever been in, with clean cut furniture, well organized tables, etc.
On one of these tables, I noticed the first of several communication technologies in/around the home. There were about 50 birthday cards neatly set up on two side tables in the family room. This was a bit surprising to me, as they were hall-mark cards. Being mass produced and commercialized, I would more have expected a hand written card for this society, but apparently these were allowed in this Amish community. Upon walking into the next room, I saw a neatly stacked pile of newspapers from the outside world on top of a dresser. This, I had later discovered, was how they kept in touch with the news in our society (along with word of mouth).
One of the most peculiar things that Mrs. Yoder had mentioned (which I really shouldn't have been surprised at, since it was hinted at in lecture) was the fact that German was their main language in their Church systems. Language, being a communication technology itself, is definitely worth documenting in the blog. She explained that children learned both English and German in classes, and that both of these languages were used in conversation around the home, but when church (which was also held in each members home on a rotational basis) was in session, scripture and sermons were given in solely German.
As also mentioned in class, the house telephone was in an outhouse-shaped structure outside the home. This phone was used by Mrs. Yoder, along with her daughter's family, who lived in a conjoined home connected to her house. She had essentially said that this phone was seldom used except in emergencies where someone needed to go to the hospital, or a related situation.
One technology not foreseen or hinted at in lecture was the radio I saw in the common room of the house. I did not get a chance to ask her about the radio, but I could only assume its purpose was not for her to listen to Lady Gaga before she went to bed. I had heard from an alternate source that there were radio stations in that area that broadcasted religious things, such as bible verses, which I assume its real use is something similar. I also believe the news is also a valid possibility of what it could be used for.
There are a couple of class concepts I would like to relate to this trip, both from the class lecture on the Amish and Resistance. One, is that the Amish culture is against individualism. I completely see where this is coming from after this experience. Everything Mary talked about was used for the good of her family, or for the community as a whole. People offered up there homes in order to have church services, and then they would always have pot luck dinners, and just hang out at a community after the services were over. They also solely focused on being closer to God, and never putting themselves first. The second concept is the one of "separation." I overestimated how heavy this effect would be. I definitely expected lanterns and fireplace stoves, but there was gas powered lightbulbs, air powered washing machines, and just about every other functioning technology you expect to see in your own home. They had alternate power sources, but still existed. I think the stereotypes I had enforced before were not really justified, and although this community may have separated itself from some advanced technologies, it was still able to function clearly without them.