Turkish Student Association returns after six-year break


Turkish Student Association

Turkish Student Association held their first meeting, gathering about 30 attendees.

After a six-year hiatus, the Turkish Student Association is once again active on campus, fueled by a motivation to come together as a community after the disastrous and fatal earthquakes in Turkey.

It has been two years since Zulal Melek, a graduate student in education and president of the organization, came to Iowa State, and while she was able to meet other Turkish students, the lack of an active organization made that difficult.

“All the Turks I met were complaining about the lack of an organization,” Melek said. “It was the desire of all the Turks living in Ames, especially newcomers like us.”

Melek said she always noticed the lack of representation of Turkish culture and students in international events, so re-starting the Turkish Student Association would allow for Turkish culture to be promoted.

The group is looking forward to creating a solid support system for Turkish students, according to Ceren Ordas, vice president of the club and a graduate student in the ecology, evolution and organismal biology department.

“We always felt like there was a need for a Turkish community on campus,” Ordas said. “Being away from your family and friends in a foreign country can get quite challenging without that support, and most of us meet randomly.”

Ordas said the Turkish Student Association is interested in providing resources and guidance to Turkish students after moving to Iowa State.

“After the horrible earthquakes in Turkey, we saw that the community we are forming here was much needed for moral support,” Ordas said. “We want to portray our warm hospitality to the best of our abilities, not just for Turkish people but anyone in Ames that is interested in experiencing a different culture.”

The organization plans to meet monthly in the student innovation center.

The first meeting gathered approximately 30 attendees, according to Muhammet Bekir Arslan, the group’s international student council representative and a graduate student in architecture.

Melek said the first meeting focused on getting to know each other, determining ways to help earthquake victims in Turkey and discussing possible activities.

“Turkish students were very happy about the participation of different nationalities, while non-Turkish students expressed happiness that we tried to explain special days to them that are important to us,” Melek said.

The organization’s first goal is to organize events to help out earthquake victims, according to Merich Yoztyurk, the group’s activity coordinator and a graduate student in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology.

“You should know that your Turkish friends and colleagues are not okay,” said Memis Bilgici, a graduate student in agronomy and the treasurer of the organization. “We lost more than 46,000 people and ten cities in one night.”

The Turkish food fair will take place March 31, and all proceeds will be donated to victims of the earthquakes in Turkey.

“We aim to show what Turkish culture is to people from all over the world,” Yoztyurk said. “We will organize several events to celebrate Turkish culture with different cultures together.”

Yoztyurk said other events the group has planned include Turkish nights featuring food and music and game nights.

Yoztyurk said he hopes these events will help break down cultural barriers and promote diversity while showing people Turkish culture.

“Through our events, we also aim to break down cultural barriers and promote diversity,” Yoztyurk said. “We want to show people from all over the world the beauty of Turkish culture and how it can be appreciated and celebrated together with other cultures.”

To learn more about the Turkish Student Association, visit their Instagram.