“The experience renewed me in so many ways. It provided time and space to connect with family and share stories about loved ones. It opened my eyes to the ways our food traditions shape our experiences and root us in place. It challenged me to broaden my knowledge of technology and discover new ways to share information. It made possible the trip of a lifetime, traveling to France and Switzerland.”
Keira Amstutz’s adventure began in a research phase, working with her mother to determine the exact region of Europe from which their Amish forbearers came to America. She had long been interested in her family history and sought to explore that history through her love of cooking. Her travels took her to Switzerland and Alsace, France. The main goal of her trip was to sample local fare, both culture and food, to cultivate a blog on the subjects. Although Amstutz wouldn’t consider herself tech savvy, she says, “Luckily, I was able to work with local designer Andy Fry to find a solution. We created a Squarespace blog site for me to catalog the recipes and writing I completed, which was also easy enough to use that my family members can join in the fun, creating a platform for all of us to share together.”
While in Switzerland, she imagined how her ancestors must have felt settling down in northeastern Indiana. For her, the experience was cathartic. She explains, “This part of France and Switzerland enjoys eating pork, corn, dairy, potatoes, rhubarb, apricots and yeast breads — very similar to the foods of my youth in northeast Indiana. It must have been reassuring to my immigrant relatives to settle in a part of the country that seemed so much like home.” Amstutz even noticed how comparable the flora was to her native Indiana.
The renewal experience affected Amstutz deeply, in ways she’d never imagined. Her journey connected her to other Indianapolis artists and administrators, broadening her network both culturally and socially. After the trip, her mother decided to begin a book of short stories about their family history to share with Amstutz’s daughters. Working with Andy Fry was also a great joy to Amstutz; she was very thankful for his talent and kindness throughout their collaboration. “The lasting effects will be many. I look forward to deepening the relationships I have made through this project with the other fellows and those who advised me along the way. I will take what I've learned to my work at Indiana Humanities by sharing my renewed passion for studying family and local history.”