Meeting the Amish

Prior to my trainride from Chicago to Kansas city I had seen Amish people during my other train rides, but for some reason, this time it was different. When I saw an Amish family just a few rows in front of us, it suddenly hit me and I thought “I think they still speak some German”.

Knowing that the Amish are a rather closed community and do not like to be too much in contact with outsiders, I discussed about half an hour with my neighbour Sandy if I should go up and talk to them. She incouraged me and said “The worst thing they can say is that they don’t want to talk to you”. So I thought “Ok, now or never”.

I went up to them and talked to a young couple with a small child. I introduced myself quickly and asked them if they still spoke some German, as their ancestors came from German-speaking Europe. To my surprise, they were very friendly and said “Yes, we speak Pennsilvania Dutch”, whereupon the husband said a few words which I almost understood to my own surprise.
I thanked them and sat back down, telling the entire encounter in detail to my neighbour Sandy. After a while, my curiosity took me. I questioned myself (and my neighbour Sandy) if I would actually be able to converse with them in German if I was around them for a while. After about another half hour or 45 Minutes of discussion with Sandy if or if I should not, I went up to them again.

I told them about my interest in their language and my curiosity if I would be able to converse with them, and frankly asked them if they knew about a community I could go to visit. Then, something absolutely unexpected happened. After a short look back to their parents in the row behind them and asking me if I got off in Kansas City, the husband said “Well I guess you could come visit us if you aren’t busy.” I could not believe what I just had heard, but about five minutes later I had their adress and phone number in my notebook and we had settled Wednesday, the first of June, for my visit.

2 thoughts on “Meeting the Amish

  1. Nancy says:

    I can not wait to hear more. There are also Amish in Michigan and a larger community in Indiana and Ohio, which we could visit while you are here.

    1. Richard says:

      Me too! A brother of mine is married to a Mennonite here in Pennsylvania. I think his wife’s maternal grandfather was the last one who could speak “Pennsylvania Dutch” in her family.

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