Section: Arts

Amish songs are just ‘Beachy’ at community event

by India Amos

Selling hand-woven baskets and homemade jams on Middle Path on any given day, the Amish often only interact with Kenyon students in this capacity.

But the Beachy family, a local Amish family, seeks to resolve this distance through their community-oriented event: an Amish Sing. The family came to Peirce Hall on Tuesday to regale listeners with their tunes.

Sponsored by the Rural Life Center, the event was intended to expand interactions between Kenyon students, faculty and staff, community members and the local Amish community.

Professor of Sociology Howard Sacks, director of the Rural Life Center, wrote in an email that he believes Kenyon-Amish interactions are highly valuable.

“The Amish emphasis on the value of community offers a critical perspective on the perils of radical individualism in our everyday lives,” Sacks said. “In these and other ways, engaging with the Amish offers a valuable perspective on the assumptions underlying our chosen way of life.”

Whether in a religious context, at school or as a social device, singing holds great importance within the Amish culture.

The Amish come into contact now more than ever before with the greater community, mainly due to the commercial connections that have developed between the two parties; the Amish, however, still define themselves as a unique group.

Their affinity for singing, as well as their singing practices in general, are a critical aspect of their culture.

However, rather than shy away from the differences between the Amish community and those who participate in different practices, the Amish are proud of their differences and wish to share them with the Kenyon community.

This Tuesday during Common Hour in Peirce Lounge, the Beachy family gave a captivating presentation of one of their cultural traditions. An Amish “Sing” is welcome to anyone who wishes to learn about a culture that is one of Kenyon College’s closest and kindest neighbors.

Sacks said he thinks the Sing was successful and provided enjoyable interaction between the Beachy family and the Kenyon community.

“I was very pleased with the session,” Sacks said. “The Amish sing attracted a diverse audience from the Kenyon and surrounding communities. Jacob Beachy does a wonderful job presenting Amish music and life, and the audience asked very thoughtful questions that advanced the conversation. The Beachy family stayed for lunch at Peirce after the event, and they really enjoyed meeting students.”


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