EMU contestants in the 2011 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratory Contest (left to right, top to bottom): CheRay N. Chaney, Jessica Sarriot, Jakob zumFelde, Chrissy Kreider, Megan Brauckman, Larisa Zehr and Jossimar Diaz-Castro. Photo by Joan Chamberlain

Students Issue Calls for Peace in Oratorical Contest

Seven Eastern Mennonite University students raised their voices in a call for practical peacemaking Mar. 25, 2011, in the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratory contest.

Each speaker applied the Christian peace position to a contemporary concern in an 8-10 minute address of 1,500 words or less.

Jessica Sarriot, a senior peacebuilding and Development major originally from Paris, France, took first place with her speech, “Hold on, Together.” Her speech examined the difficulties persons have in hearing each other,
often springing from a disparate sense of urgency and priority, and what needs to happen for genuine communication to occur.

“No matter their age, stance on war, mental health or the Establishment, people are brought together by their willingness to be moved, physically and figuratively, by the cry of another. When we do that, when we live
awake and responsive to others, seeing allies and opportunities, taking mad leaps at the light barely seen through the darkness, we are rewarded,”  Sarriott declared.

Jossimar Diaz-Castro, a sophomore philosophy and theology major from Mexico City, Mexico was first runner-up with his speech, “Unwanted Aliens: the Jewish and Hispanic Story.” Drawing on similarities between the Jewish people of Bible times and contemporary society, he urged his audience to “develop relationships with your Hispanic brothers and sisters. Invite them and visit each others’ congregations and set your tables for them.”

Megan Brauckmann, a senior peacebuilding and development major from Baltimore, Md., was second runner-up with her speech, “An Embodied Faith.”

“Being the body of Christ means allowing the model of the incarnation to challenge us radically to an embodied faith, a faith that wrestles with what the incarnation of the Word of God means and the role of the body in our theology – a faith that approaches each person barefoot, encountering holy ground,” Bruackmann stated.

As first-place winner, Ms. Sarriott receives a cash prize and entry in the bi-national competition with winners from other Mennonite-related colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The bi-national winner will be announced in late September/early October.

Following graduation this spring, Sarriott plans to join nine other people in SEED, a two-year peacebuilding program in Colombia with Mennonite Central Committee.

The annual oratorical event, open to students in Mennonite and Brethren in Christ universities and colleges in Canada and the United States, is administered by Peace and Justice Ministries of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S.

The contest was established in 1974 in honor of the late C. Henry Smith, a Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen College and Bluffton University.