Reflecting on Coming of Age with the Amish and the Maasai

6 Dec

This week, we’ve examined a number of coming-of-age rituals: The Amish Rumspringa, Maasai circumcision, and a number of rituals from communities around the world (see below for videos). Today, I’d like you to advance your thinking around one of these experiences in particular, and reflect on the following question:

What purpose does the Amish “Rumspringa” or Maasai circumcision serve in their respective cultures?

Learn more about the Amish at NPR or PBS.

Learn more about the Maasai men or women.

Again, reflect on the question above – taking what you learn from the films we’ve watched and the articles as well – in the comments.

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17 Responses to “Reflecting on Coming of Age with the Amish and the Maasai”

  1. maxleu December 6, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Rumspringa is a very important event in the Amish community. When a Amish adolescent hits age 16 they leave the community and live in the outside world for as long as they want. They don’t have to follow the rules they did in the Amish community. They can either choose to go back to the Amish community or stay out. This is important to the Amish because they feel that an individual should choose whether they want to be apart of the Amish church or not. If they do come back they are baptized. If the individual leaves again after baptism then they are shunned. The Rumspinga is important because it gives Amish adolescents the choice to either stay or leave.

  2. mrbaskins16 December 6, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Rumspringa is not only a coming of age but it’s testing the youth’s faith to the Amish peoples.

  3. karenmejiaworldlit December 6, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    The purpose of the Amish Rumspringa is the encouragement to go out and explore for Amish children at the age of sixteen. They are able to explore the “English culture” where they can go to parties, drink, have sex and driving. By giving them this option they expect the teens to come back after tasting the modern world. A little bit about the Amish culture is that they are Christians, who believe in God and Jesus Christ. They study the bible, and do not believe in the technology that is used today, cars, phones, TV etc. The kids only attend school until 8th grade after that they are taken out and are to work in the farm. For some, they choose to become part of the Amish culture and get baptized because most of them could not deal with what the English culture is like. Also, they do not want to be shunned from their family. For those that don’t become part of the community they are shunned by the Amish community, and are to make their own lives in that culture.

  4. Adam vajdak December 6, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Rumspringa is a coming of age tradition with the Amish community. When an Amish child hits 16 years of age they are allowed to go into the outside world which they call “The devil’s play ground”. For the Amish this tradition is allowing there children experiance the world as is it and allow them to make the hard choice that they are all given. TO be amish or not to be amish. This decision is an externally hard one since your family is Amish and is going to stay in the Amish community and is a life choice that they must mke and this ends up as a hard expereince for all of the amish children. This traddition serves the purpose of ether making the children love to be amish or make it so that those that don;t want to be amish live thier life how they want it i see it as a procces of selection and choice for the community.

  5. Adam vajdak December 6, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Rumspringa is a coming of age tradition with the Amish community. When an Amish child hits 16 years of age they are allowed to go into the outside world which they call “The devil’s play ground”. For the Amish this tradition is allowing there children experiance the world as is it and allow them to make the hard choice that they are all given. TO be amish or not to be amish. This decision is an externally hard one since your family is Amish and is going to stay in the Amish community and is a life choice that they must mke and this ends up as a hard expereince for all of the amish children. This traddition serves the purpose of ether making the children love to be amish or make it so that those that don;t want to be amish live thier life how they want it i see it as a procces of selection and choice for the community.

  6. nicksulis December 6, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I believe that Rumspringa serves to test the 16-year olds on wether they can endure the “English” world and make them realize what they want in life. It’s a turning point in their lives and the community needs to know that they have the strength to commit and return to the Church, or leave and lead a different life. Leaving their normal lifestyle, and trying out new things in the “English” world will either show them how being Amish is a better way of life, or show them that drinking,smoking, and other freedoms are worth the change. I feel that outside the world let’s them express themselves a lot more, considering all the limitations that being Amish incorporates. On the other hand, being Amish does help lead an easier life, in which they have a close knit community, their families, and a job to support them throughout life.

  7. adriannaj5 December 6, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Rumspringa ia an event that takes place when an Amish person turns 16 and has to make the decision to stay with the Amish church or leave . The whole process is that the person gets to experience what the outside world is like and if they decide they want to live that way they go out on their own and if they don’t they return to church and live as an Amish ,get baptized and married. The one thing about this event is that fact that they don’t have to follow any of the Amish rules they can drink, party, and etc.

  8. musamatiwane December 6, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Rumspringa is a coming of age event for the Amish. The Amish are Christians who believe in life simplicity, that simplicity is created through using less technology. As a child growing up in the Amish community you are never an official member of the Amish community until you have experienced Rumspringa and decide to join the Amish church. During Rumspringa 16 year olds and older are granted the freedom to live life like an “English” (Americans). The time of their experience of Rumspringa can vary but after the event they must choose the life or an Amish or not, which would end in a shun from their family, and a life on their own

  9. fishsimmons December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Rumspringa is “running around” in German. It usually happens when you turn 16 and you enter adulthood. You get the freedom to date, socialize, and choose if you want to stay in the Amish community. Rumspringa ends when you get married, which happens on average at the age of 21 or 22.

  10. Cooperp December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    The Amish send their teenagers out into the world so as to determine if said children will be able to live amish.

  11. madelinej8 December 6, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I think that the Amish do the Rumspringa because they want to make sure that that they know what they are giving up, and to make sure they actually stay faithful with the church. Some Amish teens may be curious about the “outside” world and always have doubt and never be sure. By doing the Rumspringa, they know how the “Devil’s Playground” actually is and stay true to their culture. I’ve also noticed that most Amish teens take this opportunity to do everything they wouldn’t do in the Amish community. They all smoke and drink and do things which are not acceptable in their culture. I think that they do this to “experience” the whole outside world without feeling any guilt, because if you think about it, they could do everything and have no consequences since they will get baptized when they go back.

  12. smw8884 December 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    I think that the Amish take part in Rumspringa because they think that they should be able to go out and experience the world so then they will realize that the Amish life is the correct way to live. I have watched “Breaking Amish” and you can see that the elders all take a lot of pride in being Amish. I think that probably makes it hard for adolescents. I also think when you live a life that is very disconnected from the way a majority of society lives going out into the world would seem really scary but exciting at once. This is why I think a lot of people in the Amish community choose to go on Rumspringa for a long time. I think this then makes people realize really why they want to stay Amish because 90% do choose to stay Amish. I think that it is really good that they are allowed to go out and take part in Rumspringa but I think it is also really hard to leave a place that you have lived for 16 years of your life and go join a completely different culture that might not really understand were you came from. That is why I feel like they have Rumspringa so one, you can experience something you haven’t but also, two to realize that being Amish is the best way to be.
    –Martha Willey

  13. smb2860 December 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I think Rumspringa is a test of the Amish toward the 16-year olds. They have a very important decision to make; either to join the Amish community, or go on their own. This important for them because if they chose to live on their own they have to have enough responsibility in order for them to be able to survive. When they decide to leave the Amish community, they are still allowed to talk to the Amish community, because the Amish want that person back. You have to decide weather you think your read to be on your own, or if you want to commit to living with the Amish. If you decide to become Amish, you must be baptized. After you are baptized, you can no longer do the things you used to do, like smoke and party and other things. For the 16-year-olds, this is a big choice. I think this is a big choice for them to make, because it will frame the rest of their lives. Rumspringa is very interesting because they give the 16-ear-olds an opporunity to experience different things before deciding if they wanted to become Amish or not.

    -Mariella Benavides

  14. tenzin14 December 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    The purpose of the Amnish Rumspringa is to make sure that the Amish Children (age 16) know what they are giving up. During Rumpringa, they typically do all the stuff they wouldn’t be allowed to do in their culture such as smoking, drinking and dressing “english”. All of these would not be acceptable in their culture and before they make the decision to be stay faithful with the church, it is important to know what is on the other side. It is a curiosity that needs to be known so during this period, they experience lot of different “outside” world and later, they choose whether to become apart of the Amish culture and get baptized or be in the “English culture”.

  15. cooperp1 December 9, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I believe that the amish send their sixteen year olds out into the world to give them a taste of the “devil’s playground” so that they can focus completely on living life as a part of the amish church. By allowing the amish who leave for Rumspinga to drink and watch TV and many other things they get it out of their system and they end up returning to the system they were raised in.

  16. sap6100 December 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    I think the purpose of Rumspringa on the Amish community is to show the young adults the outside world. I think this is important to the community because I think in there eyes its testing the children’s faith to god. It shows them the outside world & lets them experiencing the “English” way of living. I think it shows them the “evils” of the outside world and for some people that experience makes them love god more and love the way that they live more. I think it also shows them how hard it is for them to live on there own and provide for themselves without there families and the support of there community.

    • sap6100 December 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      Athena Partington

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