On Tuesday, February 17, five Goshen College students competed in the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest in Umble Center. Participants delivered an 8 to 10 minute speech on a topic of their choice relating to peace. The purpose of the contest is to provide an opportunity for students to become involved with the cause for peace and develop rhetorical skills.
The contest winner, Dona Park, a sophomore art and interdisciplinary major, gave a speech titled “Through the Eyes of the People” and spoke on the very real truths of what is currently happening in North and South Korea.
Morgan Yordy, a first-year history and peace, justice and conflict studies major, received second place and spoke on “Saving the Future: One Girl at a Time” and the importance of equal opportunity for and recognition of girls’ education.
Sarah Hofkamp, a sophomore interdisciplinary and peace, justice and conflict studies major spoke on “Sexual Violence and Mennonite Institutions” and the capability of inclusion to eradicate it.
Anya Kreider, a sophomore social work and peace, justice and conflict studies major, spoke on “Apathy: the Evil Within” and the struggle with our role in social justice issues.
Peter Meyer Reimer, a junior biology and interdisciplinary major, gave a speech titled “Dead White Men Show Us the Skeletons We Didn’t Know We Kept in Our Closets” which focused on John Howard Yoder, sexual assault and Meyer Reimer’s own role in the conversation as a cis middle-class white male.
“This contest gives students the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Pat Lehman, professor of communications at GC. Lehman was one of three people on the panel that decided which five students would participate in the competition. The preliminary rounds of the contest were held in late January and were decided by Lehman, Seth Conley and last year’s C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest winner, senior Abby Deaton.
“All five students had a poised presentation, provided evidence for their argument and were committed and passionate to their cause during the preliminary round,” said Lehman.
The judges who decided the winner of the contest were Ruth Hollinger, June Alliman-Yoder and Michael Yeakey. All three were asked to judge each contestant’s adherence to the theme of peace and justice, clarity of organization, adequacy of supporting materials, language for “the ear to hear” and overall attention to interest. They also focused on variety in voice and rate, eye contact, use of notes (if any), use of gesture or physical movements, sincerity, humor, overall enthusiasm and sense of urgency.
The contest is a U.S./Canada Mennonite Central Committee-sponsored event and is funded by the trust of C. Henry Smith, the first known Old Order Mennonite to earn a doctorate and remain within the Mennonite Church. Smith was a professor at both Bluffton and Goshen colleges.
Park’s video recording of her speech will be sent to Akron, Pennsylvania to be judged in the bi-national contest, and will receive $500 from Goshen College. If her speech wins first place in Akron, Park will receive money and scholarships to attend conferences of her choice.
“Winning a prize is an honor, but I’m more happy that I had the opportunity to have a platform to spread awareness,” said Park. “To have a willing audience who listens—that in itself is powerful and encouraging.”