For immediate release
Aug. 12, 2002
Amy Deming had never seen the Amish people in person, so their rural nineteenth century garb may have caught her off guard.
"My first thought was that they were pretty funny looking," Deming said. "But when we got to know them better, they seemed a lot more normal."
Deming, a junior English major and McNair scholar, had just finished presenting her research findings at a McNair Scholar conference at Pennsylvania State University last week when she and nine other ACU McNair scholars took a trip unlike any other before returning to Abilene.
The ten students not only visited an Amish settlement in Holmes County, Ohio, but actually got to stay overnight with an Amish family, and in the process found out about a culture different from their own.
Dr. Jason Morris, director of the McNair scholars program at ACU, who arranged the trip, knew that this experience would be foreign to the students, and felt that it would be a perfect fit for the McNair program, which is designed to prepare first generation and under-represented groups for graduate education.
"Part of the commission of the McNair program is to expose them to things that they are not normally exposed to," Morris said. "The Amish culture is a culture that they probably didn't know about. This way, they really got a inside look at it."
Morris grew up near the settlement and was able to arrange for the students to tour a working Amish farm and then stay with host families for the night.
Deming stayed in the home of a farm equipment repairman, his wife and two of their seven children and said she was struck by their commitment to living out their faith.
"I was surprised by how much religion is a part of their everyday lives," Deming said. "They sat down together and had a family devotional every morning and every night, and we were able to participate with them. I was just really impressed."
Deming said the time spent in that culture taught her lessons she can apply to any culture.
"I think when I look at other non-traditional groups, it helps me to see them as people, as people like me. That's something that I can take with me from the experience."
Morris said the families who participated were equally moved by their time together.
"The Amish families just loved the ACU kids," Morris said. "They really enjoyed the interaction."
If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, university news coordinator.