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Turkish Student Association at IU works to provide earthquake relief

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The death toll is still rising days after one of the largest earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria. The impact is felt across continents right here in Indiana, with Indiana University students are stepping up to provide support as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

The IU Turkish student association and International services are working together to support relief efforts in Turkey. Students say as soon as the earthquake hit, they wanted to help. And just like clockwork, everyone came together to figure it out.

Prayer is a start, but the action comes next.

“It’s not a war we just can’t control it. We cannot stop so we have to be together, and we have to be strong,” said Selim Yavuz, president of the Turkish Student Association.

Turkey is his homeland. Most of his family is still there but were spared in the chaos. However, multiple students’ families weren’t so fortunate.

“Unfortunately, lots of our friends they lost their relatives uncles cousins. And also, they lose their close friends,” he said.

Immediately after the earthquake, students started to mobilize. They’ve rapidly moved forward with additional support from the International Services office. In part, kicking off a fundraiser and collecting coats and winter items for shipment.

“It was very heartening to see, not surprising but heartening. Always to see the amount of care and support that they provided one another,” said John Wilkerson, associate vice president for International Services.

He says IU has about 8,000 international students. With a large Turkish population. Students responded as soon as the university reached out. Now providing mental support, alongside collaboration with efforts to ship items to Turkey.

“One of the things we find when crisis happens to find opportunities to bring those students together,” Wilkerson said.

Yavuz says while students are doing their part here, his brother and cousins in Turkey are heading farther south to help with on-the-ground relief support.

“We all try to reach more people and thankfully our school is with us, and they help us,” he said.