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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Holmes County, OH, United States; Lancaster, PA, United States;
  • Program Terms: May Term
  • Restrictions: MC applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:
The Amish Cross-cultural is one of the most unique cross-culturals that Messiah College offers. Not only is it one that does not require a passport, shots, visa, or Amish 2019air travel, but it involves total immersion for almost two weeks living, eating, working, playing, and worshipping in Amish communities. Given the nature of these cultures, the selection process is much more rigorous with heavy attention given to the application responses in terms of interest and physical and emotional fitness. This is not a vacation and some students have remarked they have never worked physically harder than they have than with the Amish. Students will be required to do whatever is asked of them to do in the Amish home or farm or business that any member of the family might do. Of course, safety is the highest concern, so students will not be placed in immediate danger, but students must be aware that at least some work among the Amish is labor intensive and is around large animals (horses, cows, pigs) or around hand-operated machinery (washing machines with manual “wringers”, push lawn mowers, etc.). This course will not only educate students about the history, ways, and beliefs of the Amish, but they will be expected to actually follow those ways while among them in such practical ways as dress (long pants for guys, calf-length or longer dresses for girls) personal appearance (no make-up or jewelry), and technological “disconnection” (no digital devices ever out in public or among the Amish when with the families). This is out of respect for the culture as well as for gaining the most from the experience. In return, students will be rewarded with tremendous insights, inspiration, and experiences that only few outside of the Amish culture can fully appreciate.

Students will spend 5 days in Holmes County, Ohio in the largest Amish community in the United States, and spend 6 days in Lancaster County, in the oldest Amish community in the United States. The remaining time (a few days before, between, and after the two Amish communities) will be spent on Messiah College campus for orientations, briefings and debriefings of the Amish experience. Students selected for this course must be willing to give up some of their “freedoms” of self - expression like clothing style, make-up, tattoos (must be covered), jewelry (remove piercings), and social media (must be concealed). Furthermore, as mentioned above, students must be fit to work alongside Amish family members and not withdraw from family interaction – if a student is not open to be way outside his or her comfort zone, then this cross-cultural is probably not suitable for him or her.

Estimated Course Fee: $1200

Faculty Biographies:
John Bechtold, chair of the Psychology Department, is a veteran of many cross-culturals over his 30 years at Messiah College. He considers it a privilege to introduce students to different cultures and to help students become more “world” Christians. He is especially proud of the fact that he has such good relationships with the Amish, especially in Lancaster County, but also to some degree in Holmes County. It is those relationships that he cherishes which makes selection into this cross-cultural so significant. He has to consider if the students on each trip will assist him in maintaining such relationships or will jeopardize such relationships. He has spent years in Amish homes, and worked alongside Amish in their ‘chores’ on the farm. He has driven Amish families to Washington, DC, Baltimore, Gettysburg for mini-holidays, as well as participated in family reunions and softball games. He has worked with Amish school teachers and has given lessons in Amish schools. He considers himself an “ambassador” of the Amish and hopes that each student chosen for the course, likewise, becomes a “mini-ambassador”, able to correct and enlighten the “English” on Amish life, culture and beliefs on behalf of the Amish which are so often broadly misunderstood in today’s world.

Rich Stevick is an emeritus faculty of Messiah College who moved to Holmes County, Ohio in his retirement. He has led numerous Amish cross-culturals and mentored John in the leading of them. The course is what it is today, largely due to Rich’s influence and work. As a previous leader of this course, he continues to assist in its operation by maintaining relationships with families in Holmes County, so that students have places to stay while they are there. Holmes County contains much greater diversity in beliefs among the Amish than in Lancaster County and provides a fascinating contrast in Amish communities.

Other information:

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.