College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Mason Affiliate Faculty Onur Ergünay thanks the Fairfax Search and Rescue Team for efforts in Turkey

April 4, 2023

Dr. Onur Ergünay is a Fulbright postdoctoral researcher from Izmir Democracy University, Faculty of Education in Turkey, as well as a George Mason University faculty affiliate in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Dr. Ergünay recently had the opportunity to meet members of the Fairfax County International Urban Search and Rescue Team to express his thanks for their heroic disaster response efforts in the wake of the devastating earthquake that occurred in southern Turkey on February 6th. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake was the worst to hit the region in nearly a century killing and injuring thousands. Some 79 members and six specially trained search and rescue dogs from the elite Fairfax team were deployed to Turkey to find and rescue survivors. Sponsored by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the urban search and rescue team partners with the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency for domestic response and the United States Agency for International Development/Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance during international missions.

Accompanying Dr. Ergünay during the visit to the Fairfax headquarters office of the urban search and rescue team were Sinan Ertay, an official from the Embassy of Turkey in Washington, D.C., representatives of a regional Turkish community group, and Dr. Seth Parsons, Professor in the Elementary Education PK-6, Literacy, and Teaching and Teacher Education programs in Mason’s School of Education. Dr. Parsons is advisor to Dr. Ergünay’s Fulbright project.

During the visit, Dr. Ergünay expressed the gratitude of the Turkish community for the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the Fairfax search and rescue team as they worked tirelessly to provide the people of Turkey with humanitarian assistance following the catastrophic earthquake. In his remarks, he reflected, “Life is about making hope out of despair, and humankind has survived so far by raising hope out of despair as noted by Yasar Kemal, a renowned Turkish novelist. These are the words we need to believe in these days. On behalf of the Turkish community in Fairfax, I would like to thank The Fairfax County International Urban Search and Rescue Team for raising hope out of despair.”