Miller’s call for a community-centered approach to end hunger wins the annual Goshen College speech contest

GOSHEN, Ind. – In winning the 2005 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest with her speech about community nutrition, Elizabeth Miller honored the request of friends she made in Kenya last summer.

When I was working with these issues in Kenya, my friends there encouraged me to tell others what they were doing and why it is hopeful,” Miller, a junior history major, said during the Jan. 18 competition.

Miller opened and closed her speech titled, “Community Nutrition: Long-Term Solutions, Stability and Sustainability,” with the story of a Kenyan woman struggling with HIV and malnutrition. Miller said this woman’s situation is not uncommon, yet many of the responses to malnutrition are only temporary.

Miller offered the solution of community-centered approach to malnutrition. She said, “Community nutrition is necessary because it provides long-term solutions, promotes stability and supplies communities with sustainable methods to reduce malnutrition.”

The farm at which Miller volunteered in Kenya – one of three Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) and Harvest Initiative farms in the country – seeks to provide nutritional support for HIV/AIDS patients and offers employment for local community members who then learn more productive agriculture methods.

Near the end of her speech, Miller issued a call to action, encouraging the audience to volunteer with organizations that approach malnutrition from a community nutrition angle. She also said it is important to pay attention to hunger-related legislation and support legislation that offers the most sustainable solutions for communities.

“When I was working on this topic I was unsure about whether others would think it fit the qualifications of a peace and justice speech,” said Miller. “I am very pleased that it has been recognized as an important topic, deserving of our attention.”

Miller is the daughter of Darrel and Lynette Miller of Danvers, Ill., and is a 2002 graduate of University High School. She attends Hopedale Mennonite Church.

Runner-up Dawit Kebede, a sophomore peace, justice and conflict studies major from Ethiopia, spoke about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. His speech was titled, “The Darfur Saga: Another Rwanda Genocide.”

Like Miller, Kebede began his speech with a gripping story. He told of a woman in Sudan who was raped by two members of the Arab militia and saw her home set on fire. Kebede then gave a background to the conflict in Sudan and noted that it has taken the lives of 70,000 people and displaced 2 million.

“The response of the international community is far from satisfactory,” he said in his speech. “Genocide has been committed against the people of Darfur and the world is barely taking any serious measures to prevent it.”

The other contestant’s speeches included Dominique Burgunder-Johnson’s “Security Through Insecurity: How to Contribute to Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Josh Weaver’s “Marked Men: Gang Membership in Honduras” and Krista Ehst’s “The Stakes of Womanhood.”

This year’s five finalists for the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest were chosen out of a group of 12 pre-contestants and had already participated in a pre-competition. Pat McFarlane, coordinator of the speech contest and associate professor of communication, said, “I felt that all the finalists gave strong speeches – well-researched and, most importantly – presented with passion. I am delighted to see this quality of speechmaking at Goshen College.”

“I believe our convictions and passion for peace must be shared in public forums so that issues can be discussed openly and strategies for change considered,” McFarlane added. “The C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest challenges contestants to explain issues succinctly and clearly for their audience and to make specific suggestions for action.”

The judges for the evening included Sue Conrad, former Goshen College communication professor and current student at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary; David Hoffman, an adjunct Goshen College communication professor and lawyer; and Tina Stoltzfus Schlabach, pastor-of-care at Waterford Mennonite Church.

Participants competed for cash prizes and the top winner, Miller, may enter the U.S./Canada Mennonite Central Committee-sponsored C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. The trust of C. Henry Smith, a Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen and Bluffton (Ohio) colleges, fund the contest, which gives students an opportunity to become involved with the peace cause while cultivating rhetorical skills. Speech contests have been part of Goshen College’s history since the early 1900s; the C. Henry Smith contest allows the campus community to hear more about relevant, contemporary issues.

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit

~ Anna Groff

Editors: For more information, contact News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or