Turkish-Born Professor Urges Support for Quake Victims


Photo Credit: Voice of America

Gavin Seasholes ’24, Guest Writer

Professor Ebru Kongar has called upon the Dickinson community to help those affected by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey. 

Kongar does not have any relatives or people she is closely connected with who have been impacted by the earthquake, but her sympathies reach out to those affected, saying, “it’s going to be a really long road to recovery, and lives are forever shattered for people who lost their family members.” She has donated her last two paychecks and promises to donate her next two paychecks to relief funds.

Kongar plans to go back to Turkey this summer but for unrelated reasons. She expressed her concern that Istanbul, the city where she was born, is expected to have an earthquake of an even more serious magnitude in the near future.

One of the causes of the scale of devastation is the lack of infrastructural standardization. Many buildings were not up to code for earthquake preparedness nor were evacuation plans updated, NPR reported in 2017. The southeastern section of Turkey where the earthquakes struck are on the East Anatolian Fault Line, an area that has seen severe earthquakes in the past, though not of the magnitude of the most recent one.

Kongar said she is in contact with colleagues back in Turkey who are concerned about young people getting access to school again. UNICEF has formed makeshift schools in Turkey and Syria, but many infrastructures such as roads, buildings, and water systems have been decimated and dropout rates are predicted to soar.

“I had tears in my eyes of how caring the community was,” Kongar said in reaction to donations made in her name from members of the Dickinson community. She also said, “so many people came up to me asking if my family is okay, just empathizing with the tragedy, with the victims.”

Kongar encourages members of the Dickinson community who have the financial means to donate to charities offering relief to the victims. The email she sent on Feb. 8 has links to donation pages of various organizations that she believes would most help.