Villanova Students Take Action For Turkey


Brian Luppy/ Villanovan Photography

Students buy Turkish desserts at the bake sale to benefit victims of the earthquakes in Turkey.

Annabelle Deasy, Staff Writer

Junior Bilge Deniz Koçak, an international student from Turkey, took action on Villanova’s campus in response to the disastrous earthquake that struck in Turkey and Syria. On February 6, 2023, the countries were devastated at the expense of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, followed by several aftershocks. While Koçak’s family was not directly affected by the earthquake, she commented how her uncle’s house was destroyed, and her friend lost her father in the earthquake. The estimated death total from the natural disaster was more than 42,000 people, and impacted a region with a population of 13 million people. After learning of the events, many Villanova students turned to the community for help. 

Several of Villanova’s international students, Villanova Refugee Empowerment and Villanova International Students Organization worked together to raise money and awareness for this important issue. On February 14, the students spread love by holding a prayer service in Corr Hall for those affected by the earthquake. 

“I’m glad I saw some action from the university about the lives lost, but I wish there was more of a response,” Koçak said.

Some of the international students agreed, saying it would be great if the university had sent out an announcement spreading awareness on the issue. 

On February 21, the students went to the community, not only to share awareness, but also to share some delicious Turkish desserts. The students made traditional Turkish delights, including a pistachio baklava. 

“I was confused to see pistachios in a dessert, but it was actually so good,” freshman Martina Penelas said. 

Through this fundraising, the students were able to send the profits to Turkey and Syria, to help those left homeless or alone.

“One US dollar is about 20 Turkish Liras. With five dollars, a person could get a blanket. With 30 dollars, six people could get a tent to live in,” Koçak said.

The students are still advocating for the cause and are accepting donations through Venmo @uchicagotsa and @cenker. Donations are also being accepted directly at Ahbap, a local NGO. 

“[The students from Turkey and I were not close before, but this] is something that has brought us together,” Koçak said.

The advocacy and service demonstrated by these students is inspiring, and they will continue to work for the cause.