Ciara Reyes, participant in the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest

GOSHEN, Ind. ­ The community and college convened on Feb. 5 to hear speeches by five Goshen College students on subjects concerning principles of peace in the 2008 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest.

Ciara Reyes (Goshen, Ind.), a first-year biology and English double major, gave a speech, “The American Dream Revisited,” which drew on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech from the March on Washington to illustrate a world where every race could have that dream of freedom, equality and diversity ­ if it weren’t for a problematic immigration system. The solutions she suggested included direct action in the forms of education, empowerment, acknowledgement and compassion. “Let us begin to dream a solution into existence so our dream can evolve into a reality,” said Reyes.

Pat McFarlane, associate professor of communication, said, “I was delighted with the variety of peace-related topics and the energy and passion of the student speakers in Tuesday night’s contest. I believe the speakers challenged the audience to reflect more deeply on how to relate our desire for peace and justice to real world issues.”

The annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest was established in 1974 in honor of Smith and his academic contribution as a Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen College and Bluffton (Ohio) College. 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.