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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Five Amish teenagers go wild in Britain - clubbing, partying with a rock band... and seeing the sea for the first time

By Paul Bentley

After being made to work the land from the age of three, you can't blame these young teenagers for enjoying a bit of time off.

Five Amish youngsters have been filmed leaving their sheltered community in the U.S. for the first time to spend four weeks in Britain.

Cameras followed the group praying with their families before they left, travelling on a plane for the first time, seeing the bright lights of London - the first capital city they had ever been to - and heading to the beach with a rock band.

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First sight of the sea: The Amish teenagers found it 'awesome' and one said: 'It's more big than terrible'

Viewers are treated to their reactions in London as they experience a big city and street performers.

The group go clubbing, befriend an indie rock band and head to the country, where they interact with some of the British aristocracy.

The teenagers were in Britain as part of an Amish tradition called rumspringa - meaning 'running around' - in which they are given the chance to see the wider world for a year before being baptised into the church when they turn 16.

This enables them to do things which are usually forbidden, such as wearing non-traditional clothing, using electricity, driving cars, watching television and even drinking and smoking with people from outside their community.

Contrast: An Amish girl sunbathes next to her new friend who is wearing a skimpy bikini

Welcome: The group meet young teenagers from South London

The film, made by National Geographic and aired in the UK last year, shows the five youngsters heading to the beach with the rock band in England.

When they arrive, having never before seen the sea, they can be heard saying 'awesome' before one adds: 'It takes your breath away'.

'It's actually not as I expected. It's more big than terrible. It looks so massive.'

'I guess I like the noise and I like the water,' another girl says. 'But I'm a little scared of going too far out.'

The girls dip into the water and sunbathe with their new friends, who are wearing skimpy bikinis.

Up, up and away: The teenagers on their first ever flight, across the Atlantic to the UK

Sheltered: One of the girls confesses she finds it hard to get used to seeing other women dressed immodestly after their trip to the beach

Home: The teenagers pray with their families before they leave for their 'gap year'

While the Amish girls seem concerned that the other women may be causing the boys to 'struggle', the boys don't seem to mind.

'They don't work hard like the Amish,' one says. 'I think life is about living to the full.'

Amish children start work from as early as three. They start school when they are six but leave by 14 to start working full-time from sunrise to sunset.

At home the Amish speak a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch - a language which is spoken but rarely written down and which is inherited from their 17th century ancestors. However, they speak English with outsiders.



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