19 responses to 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community
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    Comment on Photos (July 3rd, 2015 at 08:21)


    Hi Erik,

    I have photographers visit my gallery and then send me or send me links to the pictures they take in this part of the world. Here Amish do not want their faces in pictures. I tell photographers this. It apparently “goes in one ear and out the other”, because so many do not respect these wishes.

    As a matter of fact, if you take a picture of an “English person” and then publish that picture you have liability unless you have a signed release form from that person (or that person’s guardian). So as a photographer, if you know this and respect this why treat an Amish person any differently. I would think that if they don’t want their images captured that we should do our best to respect those wishes.

    Something for your readers to ponder when they start taking pictures here in Northern Indiana.


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    Comment on A couple of other thoughts... (July 3rd, 2015 at 10:13)

    A couple of other thoughts...

    Hey Erik and Everyone. Good to be back after a vacation and some extended visiting with family.

    Thanks for the insightful post — sure wish I’d had this five years ago when I first started visiting the Amish. But I was fortunate in that most of my first visits were those areas that were more tourist-friendly — and they knew about folks like me even if I didn’t know about folks like them.

    I thought I’d add a couple thoughts to your post, since you asked. Being the Amish-related photographer that I am, I was going to mention something about Amish and photography — but David beat me to the draw. In short, every Amish community is different — some don’t want to be photographed at all, some don’t want their faces pictured, and some just don’t care (although they are not likely to pose for you.) So if you choose to photograph (as I do at times), it is wise to follow the advice one older Amish man told me a couple of years ago: Don’t gawk, and don’t get up in a person’s personal space. Be as inconspicuous as you can.

    But being inconspicuous is not limited to just taking pictures of Amish people — it applies to other pictures as well. In some places like the inside of an Amish store, I’d leave the big SLR in the car and take in my point-and-shoot (w/ flash turned off).

    Speaking of stores, Erik, for the new-to-Amish folks it might be worthy to mention that some Amish stores may have what seems to us to be very weird hours. Some of only open part time, others are closed on odd days of the week (e.g., Tuesdays). And in some of the lesser-touristy communities, you may find an Amish store that caters more to the Amish community around them than to English folks, which (in my experience) is when there might be a greater sense of awkwardness in trying to interact with the store owner.

    As I mentioned, in my experience every community is different. Recognizing and appreciating those differences is one of my enjoyments as I visit from place to place. And I’ve found that the Amish often enjoy discussing some of the unique things about their own community. (They also often enjoy knowing and discussing some of the other communities that we have visited as well. Chances are that someone you meet in a community will have kin or friends in the other places that you’ve been.)

    Thanks again, Erik.

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      Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 3rd, 2015 at 18:13)

      Good additions Don, thanks, and welcome back. Glad you brought up the store hours, it is true that some can have another closed day in the week…the photo I posted above (it is of Borkholder Country Store in Nappanee, IN) shows you that they also close Wednesday.

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    Amish girl – Rebecca
    Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 3rd, 2015 at 11:53)

    Hey Good Job ! Erik

    A few more tips here : Treat us like people, because that’s what we are ! You would be surprised how many people come here and treat us either like zoo animals and gawk and stare.Nor like we are Celebrities. We’re neither, so just be yourself. Be friendly and courteous, but not to the point of being fake. We can tell if you’re genuine or not. Also and this is mostly for the men- Don’t be overly friendly or flirty toward the young ladies. We do not appreciate being called honey and sweety or winked at by the men. And don’t be surprised if we don’t remember you the next time you visit our shop. There’s millions of tourists coming through each year, so unless we have a specific reason to remember you we probably won’t.Also don’t expect special treatment, because you came all the way from Texas, New York, or California to see us, because join the crowd (You’re one of millions). People come from China, Europe, India,etc. also. Or because you have such a great interest or appreciation for Amish. Many people do. We’ll try to be friendly toward all. Go ahead and ask questions, but don’t make assumptions and accept it if you’re proved wrong. It might be a good idea to do some research before you go to a certain community, but don’t believe all you see on the internet and especially not TV shows or the Amish fiction novels. Above all keep an open mind, Amish are all different, even within the same community. Looking forward to having you here !

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      Jeff Smejkal
      Comment on Ignorant people (July 3rd, 2015 at 13:06)

      Ignorant people

      Rebecca, thanks for your polite comments. You hit it correctly. people sometimes don’t take the time and research the Amish or any other item they are going to visit. A lot do but there are some that don’t. I don’t think it is all intentional but regardless they are violating your space. Before we moved to Georgia, Lancaster, PA. was our second home when we lived in upstate NY. We loved the country living, the friendly attitude of the people and for me the Amish life style. I know for a lot of the English they may think that a lot of the Amish folks they see are probably actors. I myself have the utmost respect for the Amish and their life style. I may not be able to adapt to it these day but when I was younger and not exposed to the modern things we have in life I think I would have loved to live that way. My wife says she could without a doubt.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hopefully this will help some of those that are not completely knowledgable of the Amish culture..

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      Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 3rd, 2015 at 18:20)

      Nice add-ons Rebecca–right to the point. I was a little surprised to hear about the behavior towards women–then again I am not one, nor am I Amish, (and sweetie and honey not really in my vocabulary) so I’m not plugged into that experience. Must be tiresome.

      And I can see in your suggestions some of the expectations you encounter from people. Regarding “special treatment” or being remembered, I can see how some might think that way–not realizing how many people pass through the area as visitors each week, month, year. I know that people are polite in your area regardless.

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        Amish Girl-Rebecca
        Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 4th, 2015 at 12:21)

        Not to sound unkind here, but it generally seems older gentlemen who have this tendency. I believe (well hope anyway) that they don’t really realize how it makes us feel. It makes a young lady self-conscious and therefore will soon seem less friendly. We have also been taught to be careful around strangers, especially men. There’s too many crazy things happening in this world to not be careful.

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    Walter Boomsma
    Comment on Two simple things... (July 3rd, 2015 at 13:27)

    Two simple things...

    Two simple things–perhaps already hinted at, but worth making very clear. First, SMILE a lot–not stupidly and phoney, just happy and open. I’ve had a number of Amish folk actually start conversations with me–I’d like to think it’s because I appear (and am!) approachable. Being from small-town rural Maine this is actually almost instinctive–we get used to the idea that everybody is a neighbor and exchange pleasantries very commonly and naturally.

    Second, show respect and awareness–this ought also to be very natural and common, but our fast-paced and often self-centered world means we aren’t always “in tune” with those around us.

    I think my favorite “Amish Conversation” was with a toddler… I was strolling along the road past her farm and she came running down from the barn to greet me. I didn’t understand a word she said (well, not literally) but her arms were waving and gesturing and her smile and laughter was infectious. So I spoke back in a language she didn’t understand either, also gesturing and smiling. It was a wonderful reminder that communication is about much more than words.

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    Forest in NC
    Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 4th, 2015 at 12:03)

    I think Rebecca and the rest have about said it all, better than I could. I might suggest that folks interested in visiting a community keep their eyes open for events that will draw a mix of Amish/non-Amish, like the Spring auction in the community at Nathalie, Va. That way, a non-Amish doesn’t feel like they stick out like a sore thumb, and yet there are many Amish (and often Mennonite and other similar groups) there as well to strike up a conversation with. I like what Mr. Boomsma said about smiling; I think he’s right that most folks tend to be more relaxed around someone with a pleasant, unforced smile on their face. Either that or they’ll wonder what you’re up to…. 8)

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    Amish Girl-Rebecca
    Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 4th, 2015 at 12:43)

    I like that idea about going to benefit auctions. We have some here in Holmes about every weekend in the summer. The Firemen’s fundraisers and other such events would be good ones, too. Or spend the day at the local livestock auction. Best place to meet farmers and others who just like to go to hang out. Events like Charm Days, New Bedford Merchant Days, Mt.Eaton Days and others like that. You get to mix and mingle with locals, Amish and non-Amish alike. Just don’t appear too touristy (taking pictures, gawking).
    Just be there, be alert, mix and mingle, strike up a conversation or 2.Most people are friendly. Plus if you’re at any such event, the money from the food and many other things will benefit a needy family or other charity.

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    Comment on keeping it family friendly (July 4th, 2015 at 20:07)

    keeping it family friendly

    I’d probably suggestion not dropping the ‘F bomb’ in an Amish business, or in areas where Amish congregate.
    Although people do swear, especially young English people, I’m sure the Amish don’t want their children learning any inappropriate English words while you’re there (although I guess they will hit from the neighboring locals).

    But I suppose that goes without saying. Some people, because of modern music, popular culture, and upbringing are desensitized to the potty mouth language they use.

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      Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 4th, 2015 at 20:09)

      sorry, I meant to say “hear it” not “hit (it)” from the locals

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      Amish girl – Rebecca
      Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 6th, 2015 at 09:45)

      Good Point, SHOM, It is offensive to hear bathroom words in every sentence, that’s not saying you won’t hear any such words from Amish, but most of us refrain from using them and have been taught to use clean language. This again will vary from family to family.
      Let your yeah be yeah and your nay be nay.

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        Comment on A Question... (July 6th, 2015 at 16:04)

        A Question...

        Rebecca, your post brings a question I’ve had to mind. On a few occasions I’ve heard some Amish use “bathroom words” as you call it. One instance in particular it came from a kindly gentleman who I’d guess was in his 60’s, who used the term “chicken sh**” to describe what is clean out of chicken houses. I took no offense, but it surprised me that this respected man would use the term. It got me to wondering — and maybe you can speak to this — with PA dutch as the ‘mother tongue’, are there times when an Amish person might use an English word that is correct by its dictionary meaning, but may not be so polite based upon its popular meaning?

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          Amish girl – Rebecca
          Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 6th, 2015 at 16:13)

          Yeah, I would say it would be more common for an Amish man to use the s word when he’s actually talking about the stuff. We are perhaps not as polite or politically correct in our speaking and say things more as they are, so I’m sure we are probably sometimes offensive to others in that respect. In PA German he would likely have used “misht”. But the majority of us would try not to use such words at all and especially not in public.

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            Comment on Thanks... (July 6th, 2015 at 16:39)


            That’s what I was figuring. Thanks.

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    Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 6th, 2015 at 21:27)

    i am toying with visiting a Mennonite Church in my area that I was surprised to find out about. I know nothing about them. Do you think I ought to email the group and express my interest in taking in a service? In all likelihood the people that attend are very progressive in their ways, but still need to be given respect by me as a guest, right?

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      Comment on 5 Tips When Visiting an Amish Community (July 15th, 2015 at 00:59)

      Mennonite churches can vary greatly from one to another. Old order will be very much like the Amish. The other end of the spectrum would be the Mennonite Church USA. They are considered mainstream and liberal when compared to other Mennonite churches. Emailing ahead of time would be a good idea. Just let them know you’ve never been, are interested in attending a service, and would like to know what to expect.

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