The Writing Life and Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Please bear with me. I am in the process of rewriting my second book with a very tight deadline (October 1). It is quite intense and also very exciting. In my major revision, I am adding on chapters to those I’d already written. It is amazing how many details come back when I start mining my journals and letters from that time period. As David and I go back and relive that time, we recall things we didn’t realize we’d stored in our memory banks. There is something really energizing about going back and remembering in detail those early years when David and I were falling in love. I recommend this exercise for all couples!

Another thing I’ve been doing these past weeks is working with the other committee members, Emma Miller and Naomi Kramer, on the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund. We have announced our scholarship winners on the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund blog. What a joy it is to lend a hand to those who are embarking on the journey into higher education after emerging from an Amish community. The pool of applicants this year were an impressive lot. It was so hard to choose!

As we worked with the students to find all the available funding at their own schools, I had some interesting conversations. One person (who I won’t name because I didn’t ask her permission first) pointed out that when those of us who are Amish fill out an application, we come up as “white” in terms of race and ethnicity. Yet we are culturally so different from our mainstream American counterparts that we’d be considered a minority if we didn’t have white skin. I had never thought of it quite this way, but she is absolutely right.

There is a strain of brilliance that runs through Amish veins. This year’s ADSF applicants are of this strain. It makes me so proud to be part of the same “culture”as these dynamic, smart, committed, and tenacious students. I wish them all the best in their endeavors.

I would like to thank our generous donors for making these scholarships possible. We could not have done this without you!

I’d also like to thank Emma Miller and Naomi Kramer. Emma is the brainchild of The Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund. She conceived of this idea on the day of her own graduation. It is a testament to her caring and generous spirit that she followed through with her idea and now these students are benefitting from her generosity. She continues to work tirelessly. She is now raising funds with her cycling trip from London to Paris. You can still sponsor her trip.

Naomi, another dynamo, is a founding member of ADSF. She recently graduated from Goshen College with a nursing degree, and now works as a nurse at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. She was featured in the Winter 2012/2013 issue of the Goshen College Bulletin, which has garnered much interest in the Fund, including several of our generous donors.

Emma and Naomi have been a pleasure and inspiration to work with. May the blessings they bestow on others come back to them many times over.

Do you know of anyone who left the Amish community and has aspirations (secret or overt) to further his or her education? If so, please let them know about The Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund. We anticipate that next year we’ll have much more visibility, partly because we’ll be getting coverage in a new American Experience documentary about leaving the Amish. We anticipate being able to meet more students’ needs next year.

Note: Recently I when read my lastest blog entry and I realized that I made several sweeping generalizations. I should have given myself a “cooling off” period before posting something about that subject. Rather than take it down, I ask that you take that posting with a grain of salt. I should have stated that I experienced these parallels, without stating that these are the parallels. 

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4 thoughts on “The Writing Life and Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund”

  1. cynthia overholtzer

    hi, just was reading more of your blogs and wondered if you are coming to California this year? I would love to hear you speak, or even for a special gift send a friend. She is from Mennonite background and loves all things Amish. I think it would be good for her to hear someone that respects that lifestyle, but also left it.

    1. Hello Cynthia,

      We do not have plans to travel to California because we could not find enough events to warrant it. Who knows about next year? You know, I find I complicate people’s views of the Amish… if they’re overly-romantic, I tend to make them think a bit. And the same for people who vilify the Amish or are prone to believing what they see on “reality” television. I hope I get to meet you and your Mennonite friend someday.

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