At 5 pm, a large group of Turkish students gathered in the Theil building. The lecture hall was completely full. Mozaik had put together a programme that offered room for the stories of students who had to deal with the earthquake first hand, for example because they have family in the affected areas. The rector, Annelien Bredenoord, was also present to support the students.
One of these students is İdil Özdemir. Her parents live in Hatay, a province in the region affected by the earthquake. During the meeting, she talked about the region she comes from: “I’ve lost friends and family members and my parents can’t go home, they’ve found shelter outside the disaster area.” Her family left their home after the earthquake and cannot return due to the unstable buildings and the debris.
Özdemir found the week after the quake very difficult: “Mostly because people didn’t understand how dire the situation was. Little attention was paid to it, and it was hard for me to understand the situation myself, because I couldn’t contact my parents properly.”
After her story, other students in the room spoke up about their situation. People talked about lost relatives and classmates.
In the Living Room, other students can provide a listening ear. The offices of student association Mozaik and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility team are also open.
Next week, there are walk-in sessions and seminars on campus with psychologists familiar with Turkish or Syrian culture and an Islamic (Arab) spiritual counsellor. More information at the Student Wellbeing Platform.
The students were then given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the basis of a Mentimeter. They were allowed to submit ideas about what they think people in the affected area need most. A word cloud appeared on the screen with words such as ‘food’ and ‘winter clothes’, but also ‘psychological help’ and ‘education’. The students not only considered the basic needs, but also the systematic changes that are required to help the country recover.
Opinions were divided. Some students felt that schools should be built as soon as possible and mental health services sent, such as psychologists who can help people process the widespread trauma caused by the earthquake. Others felt that this could be postponed for a while and for now were keen to collect as many items as possible to send to Turkey. A student whose mother is an aid worker in the disaster area wondered whether this made sense: “Stuff doesn’t always end up with the people who need it.” The Red Cross and the Turkish embassy in the Netherlands asked not to donate goods anymore. Instead, they say money is more useful right now, so organisations can ensure that people get the goods they actually need.
Students organise fundraiser for disaster-hit Turkey
Turkish students from Erasmus University are organising a fundraiser to help the disaster…
Dissatisfaction with the university
Towards the end of the meeting, emotions were running high. The students also felt a lot of frustration towards the university. The rector Annelien Bredenoord was asked critical questions about the university’s actions towards Turkish students. Many students were finding it difficult to continue their studies and had hoped for more support from the university. This is painful, according to the students, because solidarity is an important factor in these difficult times. Both from the university and from fellow students. Bredenoord stated: “We don’t yet have a protocol for a disaster like this.” One of the students present noted: “Knowing that others are thinking of us is already a great help.”