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Morocco: Peace Corps Community Honors So Youn Kim

Photo of So Youn shared by the Peace Corps

Photo of So Youn shared by the Peace Corps

Two years ago, Global Voices first introduced Morocco's Peace Corps blogosphere, a close-knit group of volunteers blogging from some of Morocco's most far-flung locales. Over the years, Peace Corps bloggers have provided insight into several small, rural communities where there are few – if any – Moroccan bloggers.

This week, however, the Peace Corps bloggers are mourning the loss of a fellow volunteer, 23-year-old So Youn Kim, who had worked at a youth center in the southern Moroccan village of Tamegrout.  Although the Peace Corps has not released the cause of So Youn's death, they have assured volunteers that it was unique to her, and not related to her work in Morocco.  Bloggers who knew her and those who didn't have memorialized Kim in a set of posts describing her ambition, her beauty, her incredible drive, and the important work she was doing in Morocco.

Oclynn in Morocco describes So Youn's important work in Tamegrout, saying:

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.

Blogger Hillary shares a photo of So Youn

Blogger Hillary shares a photo of So Youn

Sharing a photograph of So Youn, blogger Hillary writes:

It saddens my heart to write that fellow PCV, staj-mate (my YD training group), and friend, So-Youn, has suddenly passed away from an illness in Marrakech last night. My thoughts are with her family and friends as we all try to understand and morn for the loss of a great woman, PCV, and all around funny person. I will always remember that she loved life, reading, writing, and her friends dearly. Though I was not very close with her, when I did the pottery workshop at her site about a month ago this time, I got to know her better and see why so many people love being around her. The picture above is the last picture I had with her (she is the last person on the right side).

Blogger Shwiya-b-Shwiya honors So Youn's memory in this post:

So-Youn was an exuberant soul, feisty and fiery and feminist. She could be tempestuous, but she also had a great deal of empathy and arms big enough to enfold those twice her size in the most generous of hugs. She held fast to her moral code, and her strong sense of right and wrong drove her to speak out, to rally for change and to lead by example. She gave a great haircut. She loved her work and her village. She had a great deal to look forward to.
She lived large. She was ~ no, is ~ an inspiration.
Mel in Morocco honored her friend as well, writing:

I'm never very good with words when it comes to these things, but I felt I owe it to her to let the world know how special she was. She was beautiful, articulate and opinionated, so it seems only right to leave you with some words of hers about the experiences we've shared here.

“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.”

Joy in Morocco shares a letter letter written by Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, an excerpt of which describes So Youn's experience in Morocco:

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.”

From the Moroccan blogosphere, condolences to So Youn Kim's family and friends.


  • DF

    Why would PC assure PCs her death was unique to her and not tell why? She was sick and being cared for by PC. Where did she die? Was she receiving proper medical care or is there a problem with that that is ‘unique to her?’ PC should explain what happened and this might explain why her death is not unique to her, but to PC.

    • Kate

      Dear DF,

      Peace Corps does not know the cause of death. If they knew the cause of death, and assuming the family approved the release of that information, they would disclose it. All they know at this point is that she died of an unexpected illness and it was not something that was contagious.

  • Mike

    A further listing of Peace Corps Volunteer blogs from Morocco can be found here:

  • Mike

    So-Youn Kim in her own words:

  • Richard Beasley

    My daughter was serving in PC in Morocco and got very sick . So Youn’s death disturbed her deeply even though they did not know each other. The PC reaction to my daughter’s illness was they ran a test on her and said that if she didn’t hear from them she was OK. It was her experience that the medical treatment provided by PC was inadaquate and not taken seriously. She left the PC shortly there after.

  • […] of Tamegroute, died “unexpectedly after an illness,” in Marrakesh, the agency said. In blog posts mourning her, friends said the Peace Corps had assured them that the death was “unique to […]

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