Going to see the Amish


For the end of the year trip, the third grade went to Pennsylvania to continue their studies about the Amish people.

The tutor guide, Ms. Ellen, was very down to earth and had a clear understanding about the Amish and their way of life.

Before we went, I searched for children books about the Amish but only found cookbooks. The New York Public Library told me there were no Amish children books in their database. I asked my brother who is in graduate school to see if his school had any books about the Amish. That night he came home with  a thick but easy read book titled: A History of the Amish. It was worn and someone had highlighted all the important material so it was easy for me to use the book to teach my class.

During the trip I took notes worth sharing:

The Beginnings: Menno Simon, who was a priest, objected the idea of taking babies and baptizing them. He argued with the Pope and left the church with a lot of members. They now call themselves the Mennonites as oppose to Catholic. They believe people should be baptized as Adults and not as babies. Everyone should be given the choice to decide whether they want to be apart of the church. They were kicked out of Switzerland, Germany, France and other European countries because of their defiance.

Another Breakaway: Then in the 1690’s the Mennonites begin to argue among themselves about people not following rules. Jakob Ammann argued that the rules needed to be stricter, such as, if you don’t obey the rules in the church, well, then you will be thrown out. You will be shunned. The Mennonites then split in half. Those who wanted things more strict, became Amish and those who were satisfied stayed Mennonites.

William Penn: These two groups heard about an American, William Penn, who started the colony of Pennsylvania. He told both groups that they were welcome to come to Pennsylvania. Thus, both groups came to Pennsylvania. Today the Amish is in 23 states and in 3 Providences in Canada- but none are in Europe. On the other hand, the Mennonites are everywhere. They are in a lot of states, South America, Africa, and Europe. There are so many of them because they have missionaries and want to bring more people into their church. Meanwhile, the Amish are satisfied with the members they have.

(The man who gave us a buggy ride was a Mennonite).


The Amish House: They do not have electricity so they use an oil lamp or propane tank. They do not use rugs because you need a vacuum to clean the floor.

Church: They also do not have church buildings. They have church in their homes. Every other week, they attend someone’s home for service. Each member should have room in their house for the church members to attend.  During church their will be singing and a sermon. Then Brunch follows and the ladies are the ones who fix the meal. The men eat first. After they eat, the ladies and kids eat. After they all eat and clean up, then it’s time for sports.


They have bishops and minsters, all of whom are elected by each other. They do not get a salary because they already have an occupation as a farmer or carpenter. Everyone gives ten percent of their money to the church which goes into a bank account and if one of them has a problem which result in huge expenses, the church steps in and pays. For example, if someone has a huge hospital bill and can only pay half, the Bishop has the power to pay half of the bill.

They take care of each other. No one goes into an institution and no one gets sent away. If someone has alzheimers or if a child is born with physical problems. Everyone in the church, helps you out. Very little crime. If you committed a crime and the Bishop heard, he would come to your home and take you to the police. They do not hide anyone. If you get arrested for a crime, you are also shunned.

Sports: Everyone participate in sports after church. They might play: volleyball or baseball. We saw a pair of skates near the bed, in which we were told everyone had skates and scooters. Some have bikes that they ride on the farm. Everyone plays together.

Holidays: They celebrate all the traditional Christian holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. They also celebrate birthdays. They do not celebrate memorial or labor day (which celebrate soldiers). But they celebrate July 4th.

Citizens: They vote only if the issues is important to them. So they vote sometimes. They do not take part in elections. They pay their taxes and are good citizens. If you lived by them as a neighbor and needed help, they will help you.

Daily Life: Everyone eats together. Breakfast and Dinner. The mother and daughter are up early in the morning to prepare the food for everyone. The men do a lot of physical work. They are farmers or construction works. No one eats a piece of toast or fruit for breakfast. They all have big hearty breakfast (eggs, sausage, pancakes). Then, the kids go to school and Dad goes to work while mom does house work. Like, tending the garden, canning, and making quilts for themselves and tourist.


Fun Fact: The Amish calls us Englishers because we speak English. To the Amish people their are three types of people: The Amish, The Mennonites and the Englishers. They call themselves the plain people. They dress the same, they want to look like a community of people. The individual is not important. The community is important. The look and live different from Englishers. When they are growing up, they are not Amish. They only become Amish when they grown up and choose to become Amish as adults.

They are taught from the time they are very little that their are three very important things in life. They are very religious and teach their children the acronym JOY. Because they are very religious, it’s more important to learn about JESUS, be a good person and get to heaven. The O is for OTHERS. Others are your community and family and church group. The Y stands for YOU. You as an individual come last.

Marriage: This one I wasn’t really clear on…but it seems as if the Amish date before joining the church. It’s only when they decide to marry when they must join the church. The soon to be bride, makes a plain dress for her wedding. Her dress will be either blue or purple. The dress she makes for her wedding is the same dress she wears to church every other week. She wears the dress all her life. And when she dies she is buried in the dress. The bride also wears her prayer cap on her wedding day. The day she marries, she will wear very old-fashion high top shoes. The rest of the time, she wears high top black shoes and black stockings.

The Wife: The ladies have very long hair. Their hair is parted in the middle and pulled back into a bun. All ladies have the same hair style. They want to look alike. They wear a prayer cap. Like the Mennonites and the Muslim,  the Amish follow the scripture closely about a women’s hair being her crown and glory and should be only seen by her husband. Thus, they cover their hair.

When the women work, they dress plain. Unlike the Mennonites who believe in wearing bright colors and prints on their clothes.

The main job of the women is to be a wife and mother.

The Little Girl: When a child, the child dress exactly like the mother (kind of like having your own American Girl Doll). The little girl wears a plain dress and a black apron. However, she will not wear a prayer cap. She will part her hair in the middle and wear braids with a scarf for covering.

The Husband: He wears black slacks without cuffs or buttons. He also does not wear a belt. He wears suspenders. He may wear a shirt from Walmart (this comment aroused a lot of questions…as my students had learn that they make their own clothes…). All Amish men wear their straw hat  or his black wide church hat (which my students declared: ‘That looks like Ms. Hurley’s hat!” ) and construction boots.

When the men attend church, they wear hand made suits which have no buttons. He wears a white shirt and not tie and a vest.

The Little Boy: The kids are taught to work from very little. They are not out playing, they are working. The little boy sits on the back of the plow (he’s 5) and helps his dad (who maybe a farmer) plant tobacco. When the  dad puts the plow through the ground, his son is sitting on the back with the plants and he’s leaning over placing them in the grown.

In conclusion, the Amish are a happy people who are not interested in violence or war. They have a different culture.





Meeting Afro-Argentine Activist


18 June 2014 Wednesday

Today I felt a little sick. I kept coughing and felt self-conscience about it. I think the weather is finally getting to me. It’s cold and sometimes damp. I only brought my faux-fur jacket, a hoodie (that I didn’t want to wear all the time) and some soft sweaters. Hopefully I would get better.

I broke my fast and made myself a full breakfast before I left. I was a little surprised that cayenne pepper was in the cupboard and happily made tea. I was able to say a little prayer in the cold kitchen. Its hard to pray in my room because when I wake up I have to be extra careful not to wake up my roommates who can be grumpy…sometimes throughout the entire day.

Anyway, we went to meet Afro-Argentinos Activists today at a school.  I don’t know why I felt so happy that I was meeting activist. Now however, I think it was not really a big idea but before I met them I had an image of the late 60’s early 70’s and people looking like Angela Davis. This was totally not the case!

The two we met were Maria De Ma Landa and Patrica Gomez.

Maria De Ma Landa was an older lady, 69 years of age…the same age as my father. She looked pretty good for her age.  She started organizing in 1994 when she was just 25 (around my age).  I had a hard time following her ‘success’ story because there seemed to be gaps in her spoken resume  and also things she said did not make sense for an activist to say.

For example, she kept telling us that her days of organizing were over because she was much older now. My idea of an activist is – you believe in something so much that you always have a zeal to make others see the world the way you do, even if this means working in your old age. See, where I am from, activist work on their projects and believe in their topics till death!

Nevertheless, here is her story:

I started teaching my people about their history by going from door to door in 1997. I wanted them to feel comfortable about their history. First I went from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood. I saw when I went from door to door that most afro-argentines knew their history but were not teaching their children. They were also marring out of their race.

During the Memin administration people didn’t have work and got involved with drugs and alcohol.  They were clueless about what they could do concerning education. They did not know they could go to the universities for free.

I created a group of youth who with drug additions in 1998 called the group La Famillia. I used music like drums to bring them together and gave the youth work through grants to create small businesses so they could support themselves.

Here, I asked her if the group was still running but she informed me that the grant ran out…I felt this was also awkward as if your heart is into something, especially like helping your people, you should not depend solely on a grant. And what about those small businesses? Weren’t they making money?! .

It took 4 years for things to get up and kicking and finally afro-argentines are organized- well those who agree with her. See, this is another thing that got me thinking, when you are working towards a cause, the work never ends. The poor is with us always, there is always someone new to teach and someone who needs help. How in the world did her story had an end such as this one??

As I was sitting there trying to put the pieces together, someone asked a question and the topic changed to race.

Question: How do blacks/ Indians identify? I am against using terms like colonial branch because the name is chosen by the white man. (I believe she calls herself Afro-Argentine. I should have asked her about the term indigenous ).

Question: How do people respond to this organization? People who don’t look black and the next generation are embracing it. But they don’t recognize themselves as afro-argentines….it’s a pan-Diaspora movement. They all have the same concerns but now people are separating themselves. Everyone suffered the same. The ‘colonial’ people (those who embrace the term) feel they deserve everything from the government.

When she said this, I could make connections to what goes on in America concerning movements and activism. There is always confusion and a split in doctrines. Some want peace and others want violence.

Question: What’s most challenging with running an organization?  The 2010 censes. Those who went around asking the questions did not ask the “Afro-Argentine” question. So, at the end of the census, there was zero afro- argentines in Argentina. We are currently concerned about the census. 

Dr. Anderson chimed in and told us that there are currently 2 million but only 160 thousand said they were Afro-Argentine. In 2000 the state recorded 5% Afro-Argentine but in 2010 it was only .15. This happened because not only did no one ask the question but the examiners were told not to ask the question and the people did not anticipate the question in any way since it wasn’t asked since the 17th century.

Question: How do you feel after starting an organization, do you feel defeated? I feel very proud thanks to my ancestors. If not for my ancestors, I wouldn’t have came this far. I am the oldest of 32 cousins and while I still have a voice I am going to scold them about speaking from the heart and what they really are.   

After Maria De Ma Landa spoke there was a short intermission and then we met the younger activist, who is my age…Her name is Patrica Gomez. I was able to follow her closely.

She was very light skin with long hair. She looked like a Dominican but classified as Afro-Argentine. She told us that her grandparents were from West Africa. I wonder what she would call herself if she traveled to America. Maybe simply Argentine? Maybe?

She works for the Mutual Aid Society. I think her profession has to do with law. The organization that she works with is important for Afro-Argentines because it helps maintain traditions and social activities. She mentioned another organization called the NGO. I have to find what the acronym stands however, it works towards the human rights. It deals with diversity, and sexual orientation groups. It also tries to provide education and reach young workers and encourage them. Moreover, NGO creates awareness of what Afro-Descendent women have to suffer with sexism and racism. She is involved with both organizations.

I was glad she didn’t talk long but got right to the point as to what she did and what she was trying to do. Not to compare and contrast so much but she was currently working on projects unlike Landa.  One quote I got from this discussion is the following:

Your identity goes back to your history not just physical characteristics.

I learned that the history that she is trying to preserve or make others aware of is a history that is true and not lost, the state of Argentina just refuse to acknowledge it. Thus, children and even college students do not  learn about the Afro- Argentines.  If your parents or family don’t tell you about it, you may never learn about it.

There at the meeting, I met an American professor, Robert Cottrol who teaches Law and History at the George Washington University.

After eating out again at another restaurant, we walked home. Everyone decided to get ice cream but I still was feeling a little under the weather thus I went home. I stayed home by myself which was almost scary at first. I took a hot shower and went to bed.

By the way, we are totally not following this Itinerary that I keep pulling out. Maybe tomorrow I will leave it in my folder.

Meeting with Professor Ezequiel Adamovsky


Journal Entry:

16 June 2014 Monday

Today we went to a lecture by Professor Ezequiel Adamovsky. (nice name right?)

The place where we went is called La Cazona De Flores and while I don’t understand fully why it’s so significant I do know that a lot of learning takes place there and many educators such as writers and authors give speeches there.

There to welcome us was another anthropologist named Nicolas Fernadez. He sat us down and told us a little history about La Cazona De Flores. It was an upper class house full of paintings owned by a rich family. However,  when the city begin to grow, the neighborhood swallowed up the smaller rich neighborhood.

Now it’s an open space used for studies.  He told us that it is also used a base to connect study courses with employment. I guess that’s the equivalent to an internship. “The house has achieved prestige among the intellectuals, he commented, and the neighborhood of Flores is associated with Afro-Argentine families.”  I think this means a lot, but currently I am not sure why I think this.

Fernadez switched the topic to race in Argentina and I jotted down some of his quotes that I thought were intriguing:

The meaning of race has been a challenged  myth of the country since the beginning

The problem with the stereotypes is not that they are false but incomplete.

Education and violence is what constructed the nation and the false ideas that race doesn’t exist   

If you want to evolve, leave your ethnicities behind

The difference is the resistance of the people and how change comes (his comment in regards to other nations and their response to inequalities)

During the discussion, we spoke about how the government is in control of maintaining the history of Argentina and telling the history of Argentina. He then showed us the 100 peso. There are currently two circulating. One of them, the older one, has the father of the disappearance on it, Julio Argentino Roca (we spoke a little bit about him at the Cemetery) and the other peso has Maria Eva Duarte De Peron’s picture on it.

After his quick discussion, we had lunch and at a popular dish among the indigenous people. ( I am an Indian/ Bolivian dish and it was called Tarte Quino.  I enjoyed it. It did not include meat (surprise!). If I learn how to make one thing on this trip, I would want it to be that!

After lunch the lecture began. Economic, Cultural, Moral and Racial Distinctions in the Making of Class Distinctions in Modern Argentina was filled with complexity for me. I had a hard time following along with the readings because Adamovsty’s voice was monotone and there was a humming in the room. I was just distracted and even dozed off a bit. I am glad he said he would email us the readings.

Nevertheless, I did get something out of the readings. Currently, Argentina is in the middle of social changing and are working to bring about change in relations, schools, newspapers, and even behaviors…The last word makes me think of enculturation all over again. When will governemts learn that certain change is out of their control?

In the 1920’s the middle class and it’s ideologies about society is introduced. Class identity and class separation are not far apart.  

One quote that jumped out at me –which I later asked Adamovsty about – is “ the current president Cristian Fernandez de Kirchner is a defender of ethics”.  Regardless of what Adamovsty meant, how can anyone defend something so vauge and unattainable as ethics? You see why I have to read it myself?


Tonight we had a discussion with Dr. Anderson. Apparently I wasn’t the only one trying to grasp the concept of Adamovsty’s paper. She told us how hard it is for Adamovsty who translated his paper into English and also had to read it in English.

Idenity had always been about exclusion in Argentine history. This quote is by Dr. Anderson. Once again we were discussing our favorite topic- race and class. She informed us of a new term: New Poor. The old middle class is slowly becoming new poor and the level of violence has increased. There has never been this many poor people  and it’s becoming a reality for people everywhere. There is also a term to refer to those who are below the poor and it it’s destitute.

One question I now have is- were these terms coined for Argentina or are they social science terms relating to poor and below poor people everywhere? Can we use the term destitute in America to refer to a begger by the wayside?

I am not sure if we are following the Itinerary. I think we are already running out of time.