Eren Aybas (right) a junior from Turkey and Ralph Zoorob (left) a senior from Lebanon made a presentation to the Lincoln Academy community about the damage inflicted by the February 6 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.

On Friday, March 3, two LA international students from countries affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria made a presentation about the natural disaster that struck their home countries on February 6.

Eren Aybas, a junior from Turkey, led the presentation with support from Ralph Zoorob, a senior from Lebanon, a country that also experienced aftershocks from the earthquakes that struck the region in early February.

This is Aybas’s second year at Lincoln Academy, where he lives in the dorm. “My family lives in Istanbul, so they are okay,” he told the students gathered for Friday’s Community Meeting in the LA gym, “but the southern part of the country is devastated, including many people that I know.” The presentation included maps of the affected countries area and photos of the destruction, as well as pictures of Aybas’s family.

Aybas is the sixth student from Turkey to live in the LA dorm since the program opened in 2013. After the February earthquake, Dean of Students Jake Abbott, who has been part of the Residential Life staff since the beginning, checked in with each of them. “All of our Turkish graduates are accounted for,” said Abbott, “but they are all affected by the devastation through friends and family. No one in Turkey is untouched by this tragedy.”

“Here at Lincoln Academy, we are incredibly fortunate to have a diverse and complex community that pushes us all to consider the world through new lenses,” said Kelley Duffy, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at LA, in her introduction to the presentation. “Sometimes that is delightful and sometimes it is challenging, but it allows us to understand more deeply.”

“It was a cool integration of the dorm students into assembly,” said ninth grader Huckleberry Huber-Rees. “We don’t always think about the fact that the students in the dorm have this whole life back home, since we see them living in Maine day to day. “It was really powerful to hear them talk about their own experience and their families, and what’s happening in their part of the world.”

Aybas admitted that he was nervous before the presentation, but said he was “grateful for the opportunity” to share what is going on at home with the LA community. He is currently working with the LA Student Council to collect donations to support the work of Doctors Without Borders in Turkey and Syria. Students and staff at LA will be asked to make donations in their advisor groups.

“If everyone here donates just $1 we can send over $500. If everyone donates $2 we can send over $1000,” Aybas told students at the end of his presentation. “Thank you for helping people in my country.”