I quite liked this story on a Sugarcreek, Ohio man who was raised Amish and is now planning to attend medical school at Ohio State (no longer online). Obviously, it’s not typical for someone who only went through eight grades to have such high educational goals. In fact, Andy Yoder completed his GED and is now finishing his final semester at Goshen College in Indiana.
The first reason that I found this article appealing was that the family involved seems to have a healthy approach to the idea of their children not being members of the Amish church. As Andy points out, in some communities people who leave the Amish are shunned…though here it is unclear whether Andy was baptized or not, which would make the difference. The unbaptized, Amish-raised person is not subject to shunning.
Certain Amish churches in the diverse Holmes County, Ohio community are more permissive regarding shunning, while others are more strict. In practice, certain families having both children that are members of the Amish church and ones that are not may consciously or unconsciously treat them differently.
Amish handle shunning differently in different places (more on the varying approaches to shunning).
On the other hand, shunning is one of the main reasons the Amish have been growing at such a fast pace. If the Amish begin to ignore the practice, it would likely result in decreased growth. Shunning has been a major point of contention since the Amish group was led away from the Mennonites by Jakob Amman over 300 years ago. And it remains a point of contention today between different Amish groups.
The other reason that I liked the story was learning of Andy’s plans–to study oncology and return to serve the Amish community. While you may occasionally meet the home-grown Amish chiropractor or herbalist, the Amish depend on services of the modern medical community just like any other Americans. Having someone that is fluent in their first language and familiar with their culture can only be a plus.