U.S. Diplomat Gives Back to Her Guam Alma Mater

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Guam – The The Academy of Our Lady of Guam held its first student body assembly of the school year last Monday. The 430 students enrolled at the Academy were inspired and awed by their guest speaker, Ms. Yuri Kim. A graduate of the Class of l989, Yuri Kim boasted of her proud heritage of being an Academian.
[Kim family donating $4,427 full scholarship to Academy of Our Lady’s incoming junior, Rury Lee. L-R Yeong-Sae Kim and Jenni Quoc Kim (Yuri’s brother and his wife); Yuri, her father Kenneth Tae Rang Kim, Rury Lee, Lee Mi Soon, mother of Rury, Academy President Sister Francis Jerome Cruz, RSM, and Principal Mary Meeks.]

 She began her address by saying: “Two weeks ago, I was in Baghdad drinking tea with Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, talking to him about negotiating the formation of Iraq’s next government, and I wondered to myself, ‘How on earth did I get here?’ Well, the answer was that it all began
at the Academy.” Yuri told the students how the education she received at the Academy had formed the foundation upon which she has built her career as a diplomat. Recalling the teachers who had inspired her — some of whom, like Mrs. Daphne Castillo, Mr. John Blazsczak, Mr. Rick Ninete are still teaching — she encouraged the newest crop of Academians to use the coming school year to explore all possibilities, seize the many opportunities that the Academy will present, and work hard to make their dreams into realities.” “I was honestly amazed that she started out just like
me as a student at the Academy and is now a diplomat who has travelled all around the world,” commented Jessy Hardy, Academy’s National Honor Society President. This senior was motivated. “She definitely inspired everyone with her story and encouraged all of us to do the same – to challenge ourselves to go beyond what is expected.”

Yuri Kim, a nominee to AOLG 2009 Hall of Fame, lives the legacy of Academy’s mission that Academy students learn to be Women who are Christ centered, Women who are Intellectually Competent and Resourceful, Women who are Lifelong Learners, Women who are Effective Communicators and Women who are Catalysts for Change. Yuri’s appreciation of the education she received at the Academy resolves in her wanting to give back. Yuri and her family gave for the third year in a row a full scholarship to a student at the Academy. Rury Lee, 16, a junior this school year is the recipient of the Jane Wha-Young Kim Scholarship, in memory of Yuri’s mother who tragically died aboard the Korean Airlines which crashed 13 years ago in 1997.

The scholarship given is for one year and this year will cover Rury Lee’s tuition at the Academy. In addition, the Kim scholarship funds a second scholarship for high school students looking to further their education at the University of Guam.

Yuri spoke of her recent experience as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2009 to 2010, in which she played a leading role in negotiations on the law that governed Iraq’s first national election since achieving full sovereignty in 2009. In addition, she spoke of how she helped plan and execute the historic transition of the U.S. presence in Iraq from one led by the military to one led by civilians, including the responsible drawdown of U.S. Forces in Iraq. As she spoke, you could hear the “wows” from the auditorium filled with impressed high-school girls, as if to say “wow, she’s one of us.”

She also donated books to the school. Librarian Sister Orlean Pereda, RSM, received the books as Theology Teacher, Sister Mary Cabrini Taitano, RSM, and President Sister Francis Jerome Cruz, RSM showed appreciation.

Diplomat Kim is shown at right talking to Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani, about formation of Iraq’s  Prior to her most recent role, Yuri Kim was Special Assistant to Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. From 2006 to 2008, she was Chief of the DPRK (North Korea) Affair Division at the U.S. Department of State and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks aimed at achieving the denuclearization of North Korea. Her previous diplomatic assignments include: Chief of the Domestic Politics Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul (2003-06); Special Assistant in the Executive Office of Secretary of State Colin Powell (2002-03); Political-Military Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (2000-2002); and Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing (1997-2000).

In preparation for her next assignment as Political Counselor in Ankara, this Academian is learning to speak Turkish, adding to her speaking Korean, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and some French. This AOLG alumna holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Philosophy in political theory from Cambridge University.

When asked by these global power leaders, “where are you from?, Yuri proudly claims Guam as her home. By the time she is acquainted with them,
they have learned more about Guam, satisfying Yuri’s desire to also be Guam’s ambassador to the world.

For more information Please contact Marilyn Manibusan AOLG Director, Office of Alumnae Relations 300-8755 / email: [email protected]