Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I just received very disturbing news from Peace Corps in Rabat. So-Youn Kim, the YD PCV who put together the Tamegroute pottery workshop last month and hosted 11 of us to live in her house for 5 days, just passed away in a Marrakech hospital.

So-Youn put the workshop together in an attempt to help her host brother develop a business of conducting these workshops for tourists, Moroccan artisans and visitors. This was not her assignment as a Youth Development Volunteer, but something she took on to help her community. She was bright, driven, kind and generous.

I will take the liberty of copying the message sent to worldwide this morning from the Peace Corps Director, Aaron Williams:

“So-Youn, 23, a native of San Francisco and a 2007 graduate of Stanford University, had been serving for one year as a Youth Development Volunteer in Tamagourte. Her primary assignment was in a youth center where she was involved in a wide range of activities in her dual role as English teacher and youth development worker.

Her secondary activities focused on helping the village of Tamagourte’s pottery cooperative and developing an apprenticeship program. She got her hands dirty both literally and figuratively with the lives, pottery and culture of her community. She loved to teach children, support the cooperative and respect the historic craft that is so firmly rooted in that region of Morocco.

So-Youn was a remarkable writer, a voracious reader, a tireless advocate and talented in many languages. Thoughtful and hopeful would be the best way to describe her Peace Corps Aspiration Statement and other communications she has shared.

In September 2008, she wrote: 'Youth development work is effective when young people are taught to become educated, empowered, and responsible members of their communities while being given space to explore and share the challenges of their own individual identities.'

This is an ethos and passion So-Youn brought with her to Morocco. I am sharing the news of this tragedy with the hope that all of you will honor her commitment to service by providing the best support, comfort and opportunities to our dedicated Volunteers and staff around the world.

So-Youn wrote recently, 'I believe in the power of the day to day, the simple yet otherwise impossible conversations, the truths that I speak and live that affect the people around me as I learn from the truths around me in turn.'"

I wish I had had a chance to spend more time with So-Youn; in Morocco, in life.


Anonymous said...

I am a teacher at Lowell High School in San Francsico, So-Youn's alma-mater. I worked very closely with So-Youn when she was one of the shining stars of mock trial. I would have never made it without her! She was mature beyond her years, tireless, brilliant, beautiful and full of life. She had so much to contribute to this world and touched so many lives in her 23 years, including mine. I am deeply saddened by the news of her death and my thoughts are with her family and friends as we mourn this shocking loss.
- Stephanie Bellville

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I am so sorry about So-Youn. She really sounds like a tremendous person. I'm thinking of you and all of Peace Corps/Morocco.

--Kate K. in the L.A. Peace Corps office