Goshen College students speak for peace in annual oratorical contest, Feb. 3

Event: Goshen College C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest
Date and time: Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.
Location: Umble Center
Cost: free and open to the public

GOSHEN, Ind. – Six Goshen College students will speak Tuesday, Feb. 3 about issues of peace and justice for the annual C. Henry Smith Oratorical Contest. The contest begins at 7 p.m. and takes place in the Umble Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Ben Baumgartner, a freshman Bible and religion major from Hesston, Kan., will relate his experiences in learning Arabic at a mosque in Wichita to his topic on Muslim-Christian relations. He is the son of Jeff and Gail Baumgartner, is a graduate of Hesston High School in 2008 and attends Whitestone Mennonite Church. His speech is titled “Peace Between Us: Finding Hope for Muslim-Christian Relations.”

Alison Brookins, a sophomore American Sign Language major from Verona, Wis., will speak on eating locally. She is the daughter of Bradford and Lorna Brookins, is a 2007 homeschooling graduate and attends Madison Mennonite Church. Her speech is titled “Eating Locally: Sustaining Creation Through Our Community.”

Analisa Gerig-Sickles, a senior elementary education and special education major from West Branch, Iowa, will discuss the political and social justice issues surrounding last year’s immigration raids in Postville, Iowa, where she volunteered with immigrants affected by the raid. She is the daughter of David Sickles and Jean Gerig, is a graduate of West Branch High School in 2005 and attends First Mennonite Church of Iowa City. Her speech is titled “No Mas Redadas/No More Raids.”

Hoa Nguyen, a senior business major from Hanoi, Vietnam, will be sharing her concerns about human trafficking in her home country and other southeast Asian countries. She is the daughter of Khanh Nguyen and Naga Pham and is a 2005 graduate of Oregon City Senior High School. Her speech is titled “Human Trafficking: Where is the Love.”

Hector Varela, a sophomore TESOL and Spanish double major from Goshen, will speak on local gang awareness. He is the son of Patricia Morales, is a 2007 Goshen High School graduate and attends North Goshen Mennonite Church. His speech is titled “Gang Awareness: Help and Prevention.”

Finally, Isaac Yoder-Schrock, a freshman physics major from Moundridge, Kan., will speak on healthcare. He is the son of John and Marcia Yoder-Schrock, is a 2008 graduate of Moundridge High School and attends West Zion Mennonite Church. His speech is titled “National Heathcare: Caring for Others.”

“Goshen College has a history of campus engagement of critical themes and of servant leadership and activism that arises from our core values. This year’s speech contest participants are boldly adding their names to the list of those who are willing to take a stand for those values,” said Rachel Lapp, assistant professor of communication and event organizer. “This is a time of both great challenge and hopeful optimism in this country, when we are looking not only at our dire economic situation and resulting social impact, but also considering the past and potential future role of the United States in international relations and global leadership.”

Each participant will step to the lectern and deliver an 8 to 10-minute speech on their chosen topic relating to peace, in a universal or specific context, including war and violence, political policies, agencies of justice and peace, peacemaking strategies or current events. Speakers will be judged on originality, the integration of the topic and a peace position, and general standards of delivery. While judges deliberate, refreshments will be served, and then the winner will be announced.

Participants compete for cash prizes and the top winner 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, funds 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.

Umble Center is accessible to people using wheelchairs and others with physical limitations.Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.


 Goshen College, established in 1894, is a 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 www.goshen.edu.