Mina Gencoguz ’26 often wakes up before her roommate, but on Feb. 6 her roommate was up first and asked if she knew about the earthquake in Turkey.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, is her home.
“I thought it was just a small one,” Gencoguz says. “At first, I was calm, and then I saw all of my family and friends posting (on social media) and it became more serious. It was devastating.”
Gencoguz, a finance major, is leading efforts to raise donations to support her country.
“Mina walked into my office full of energy and determination,” says the Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson ’78, Wofford College’s Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion. “She said, ‘I’m going to help the people in my country. What are we going to do?’ I immediately understood our discussion wouldn’t be about whether or not we were going to do something. It would be a strategy session.”
Most of Gencoguz’s family live more than 12 hours from the border with Syria, which is where the 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred. They didn’t feel it.
She has never visited the cities along the border that were directly impacted by the catastrophe, but she has a heavy heart, especially as the death toll has exceeded 40,000 people and continues to climb. More than 100,000 were injured and millions of people have been impacted.
“These are impoverished places, and they lost their shops, homes and everything they owned,” she says.
Gencoguz, who manages social media accounts for Wofford’s men’s and women’s tennis teams, made social media posts from her personal accounts to raise awareness about fundraising efforts. She also hung fliers across campus but felt that she could do more.
She’s partnering with Robinson’s office to raise funds to donate to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which will distribute donations to International Blue Crescent in Turkey and Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue in Syria. Members of the campus community are invited to join a steering committee that’s planning fundraisers.
“This is the place where everything started, and it’s destroyed now,” Gencoguz says. “The soil has the world’s history.”