February 9, 2023

SMC's Response to Turkey-Syria Earthquake

SMC Response to Turkey-Syria Earthquake
SMC's Response to Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Feb. 9, 2023

Dear SMC Colleagues:

As of this afternoon, the death toll from the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, 2023 has risen past 20,000, and the images/footage coming out of the region are utterly heartbreaking. Many people have lost loved ones, and countless others are still in harm’s way. I write today to update you on Santa Monica College’s outreach efforts to our international students from the region—which began almost immediately following news of the earthquake—and provide some suggestions on ways you can help.

SMC Outreach to International Students from Turkey

Santa Monica College currently has 35 enrolled students from Turkey, with five of them possibly taking classes from their home country. There are no international students from Syria. Under the leadership of VP of Enrollment Development Teresita Rodriguez and Dean of International Education Press Nicolov, the SMC International Education Center (IEC) reached out via email to all our students from Turkey on Monday, Feb. 6, with follow-up taking place today and planned for tomorrow as well. These emails provided a recap of resources and ways in which SMC is here to help them throughout this unimaginably difficult time (so far, two students have responded).

The IEC remains at the ready to help, and our immigration & counseling team have been alerted to the possibility that the college might have impacted students who will need assistance in reducing their course load and alleviating economic/financial burdens while maintaining their visa status. Counselors and staff stand ready to connect students with psychological services, food security programs, and potential employment options as well as various other support programs. We also anticipate the U.S. government might issue Temporary Protected Status or Special Student Relief regulations.  Unfortunately, these have not yet been announced, but as soon as there is more information, IEC will hold workshops headed by legal experts to walk students through the application process.

How You Can Help

As the New York Times reported—read: “Here’s how to help victims of the earthquake,” Feb. 6, 2023—it is a good idea to do your research before making a donation, especially to a lesser-known organization, to ensure that assistance reaches those who need it. Sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar grade nonprofits based on transparency and effectiveness. The Internal Revenue Service also allows you to search its database to find out whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.

Here is a list of national and international organizations responding to the disaster in Turkey and Syria, as provided in the Feb. 6 NYT article:

  • The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, better known as UNICEF, said it is in Syria and prioritizing water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition, and also focusing on helping unaccompanied children locate their families. UNICEF is accepting donations.
  • Global Giving, which helps local nonprofit agencies, is collecting donations to help fund emergency medical workers’ ability to provide food, shelter and medicine, among other necessities. As needs in Turkey and Syria change, the organization will focus on long-term assistance, it said.
  • The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is requesting donations for its Disaster Response Emergency Fund so it can send “immediate cash assistance.”
  • OXFAM, an international organization that fights poverty, said it is working with women’s cooperatives in Turkey to determine an appropriate immediate and long-term response plan. It is accepting donations.
  • CARE, an organization that works with impoverished communities, is accepting donations that will go toward food, shelter and hygiene kits, among other items.
  • Doctors Without Borders, which responds to medical emergencies around the world, is collecting donations.
  • The Syrian American Medical Society, a United States-based humanitarian group that supplies medical care in Syria and nearby countries, is collecting donations to deliver emergency aid. At least one of its hospitals in northwestern Syria, Al Dana, received major damage.
  • Save the Children is accepting donations for its Children’s Emergency Fund, which will help provide children with food, shelter and warm clothing.
  • The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, which since 2012 has provided medical relief and health care services inside Syria and to Syrian refugees in Turkey, is collecting money.


The scale of this disaster is truly unfathomable, and we can only hope that the world will come through to help those who are suffering and that the aid they need will reach them in time.

Dr. Jeffery's signature

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D.