March 28, 2023

Turkey experienced a deadly earthquake on Feb. 6 near the Syrian border, affecting surrounding cities in both countries. The earthquake killed over 50,000 people and caused damage to 240,000 buildings, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. This tragedy inherently affected the region’s citizens. Turkish students at California Baptist University also witnessed the effects of the earthquake from thousands of miles away.

Design by Emily McGinn

“A couple of weeks before the earthquake my dad came here to visit me,” said Buse Topcu, CBU class of 2022 alumna.

“I am so thankful that he is here. The first 10 days after the earthquakes, all I did was watch the news and cry. I was ashamed to eat, sleep or be comfortable in my apartment while my people are dying from freezing weather or still under the rubble. I hope we never forget this situation and learn from our mistakes.”

Topcu was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, and even though she has resided in the U.S. for more than five years, she said the tragedy in Turkey has impacted her tremendously. During this time of mourning, Turkish students grieve far from their native country.

“Our closest family friends did move down there, and their house was completely destroyed,” said Emma Wolfzorn, sophomore interior design major. “They actually turned their little garage into a home that they can temporarily stay in, but there are lots of people also staying in there.”

She said that though she did not grow up in the areas that experienced the quake, knowing people close to her were affected made it feel like she had experienced it, too.

Despite modern technology, the aftermath of the earthquake has caused a major challenge for citizens looking for aid.

“There could be higher levels of causalities in more densely populated areas whose infrastructure can’t sustain the population,” said Damon Horton, program director of intercultural studies.

“The diversification of people groups and language can provide challenges during rescue efforts but also help with communication and translation for providing daily needs, healthcare and search teams. Also, Wi-Fi coverage, communication efforts and technology can help rescue and rebuild more quickly than in previous years of tragedy.”

This earthquake brought organizations together to advocate for greater resources, better infrastructure and more volunteers.

Wolfzorn encouraged students to pray for those who lost loved ones and those who suffered injuries.

“Just praying a lot and remembering that this was a horrible natural disaster, but a lot of lives are being transformed,” Wolfzorn said. “God is showing his mercy and providing for a lot of people during this time.”

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