A month after the earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria on February 6th, earlier this year, hundreds of aftershocks occurred. As AIESEC, we hope that we can help to heal the wounds quickly with the support that we can provide.
You are in the right place for anyone curious about the steps and operational processes of AIESEC Türkiye after the earthquake. We talked with the head of AIESEC Türkiye, Senem Özen, about the situation of Türkiye and the steps of AIESEC Türkiye during the earthquake period.
As the Head of AIESEC in Türkiye, how do you evaluate the current situation of Türkiye?
“As everyone knows, on February 6th, there was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in the Kahramanmaraş province of Türkiye, affecting 11 cities. About 45 thousand people lost their lives. Currently, citizens who lost their homes have moved to different cities. It’s been 1.5 months since the earthquake, but everyone is still trying to help. As all of Türkiye, we united. We became one heart and started to send help to those 11 cities around Türkiye. It was the biggest helping initiative.”
How is the situation in AIESEC Local Committees (LCs), and were any Exchange Participants (EPs) or Volunteers affected by the earthquake?
“Our LCs are in good condition. There are no casualties from our members and EP. We had 2 LCs (Adana and Gaziantep) directly affected by the earthquake and members in the earthquake zone, yet no one was hurt. As AIESEC in Türkiye, of course, we are also affected as a country. We took action steps within the vision of our organization, which we believe in, and focused on how we can help the earthquake zone, especially in February. By showing our leadership in our organization, we call ourselves “volunteers.”
What steps has AIESEC in Türkiye taken for LCs, EPs, or partner companies affected by the earthquake?
“Our top priority is the safety of our members and our EPs. We performed earthquake resistance tests of 19 Local Committees (LCs) and National Board or Member Committee (MC) offices. Risk management planning was carried out for the LCs affected by the earthquake. As the MC team and LCPs, we held an alignment meeting and clarified the strategies we changed due to the situation. We have changed the sales strategies for our iCX (Incoming Experience Program) partners. We have edited and recreated the IPS (Incoming Preparation Seminar) for the EPs with the safety guideline. We saw that there would be a problem with accommodation. Accordingly, we presented our action steps to our network. Our iCX Partners have been contacted. We are continuing our operation with our partners, who we are sure are safe. We are following our realization processes closely and in detail.”
We heard that you set up a site for the earthquake. Can you tell us about this site?
“Immediately after the earthquake, we thought that we could get help from our huge AIESEC in Türkiye network with the idea that came out of a few people. We start from the National Board or Member Committee (MC) team, open a website, spread it more throughout Türkiye, and bring together citizens who want to voluntarily open their homes with the people who were affected by the earthquake. In a short time, our website spread throughout Türkiye, and two TV channels came to the MC office and interviewed us, we believe there are more things to be done, but even if it is small, we made an impact. What were the reflections in the national media? One response, we used Instagram and Twitter accounts actively. On Instagram, we had sharings instantly to make people reach each other, to locate help centers and support. And on Twitter, we spread our earthquake website and reached many people. “
How was the AIESEC Operation taken in February, and how will it continue?
“Our focus in February was not the operation. We did not stop the operation in February after the earthquake. But we did not carry out any attraction. This is because our priority was to focus on the critical problem in Türkiye and think about how we can contribute to our 19 LCs. However, our operation was not affected, and we continued in our normal rhythm in March as well. “
There is talk of earthquake risk in Istanbul, too. What will be the steps of AIESEC in Türkiye for such cases?
“We are taking all our precautions. It is not known when there will be an earthquake or not. We take our precautions as conscious people. “Earthquakes do not kill; imprudence kills” Therefore, our 3 LC located in Istanbul, our MC office, and our LCs located in cities around Istanbul are also fully confident in the safety of members, especially the accommodation of iCX EPs, and they give their IPS according to it. We are not putting anyone at risk, and for this, we are following our operation very closely. Just in case, risk controls are carried out for our participants who will come to Türkiye with our exchange programs in the upcoming period.”
As a leader who has overcome difficult times, do you have anything you want to say to the global?
“It hasn’t had a negative impact right now, either. As AIESEC in Türkiye, we are still here. We are in the field. No matter what happens, we will always find a way and continue to contribute and positively impact Türkiye. There is only one thing we want to say to you make sure you have the right information about the situation, and please directly communicate with the Turkish plenary. How was AIESEC established? By brave people in a time of crisis to make a positive impact on the world. We are brave as AIESEC in Türkiye. Our doors are always open to everyone.”
We support AIESEC Türkiye in the steps it has taken, and we would like to state that we will not hesitate to provide the necessary support for the future. We thank the head of AIESEC Türkiye for the interview!26