The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
When I first read this story in the Omaha World-Herald, my initial thought was, “This amazingly talented young girl gets the short end of the stick no matter how this plays out.”
Alice Wang, 12, the daughter of California paralegal Charlotte Wu and visiting Stanford University scholar Suwen Wang, won the North American division of a painting competition sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and Bayer Corporation. Her gorgeous abstract painting representing global warming reflects an artistic talent which belies her young age and is currently on display at the Omaha Children’s Museum.
What should have been a celebratory family trip to the exhibit’s opening in Omaha earlier this month turned into a nightmare when both parents were arrested and jailed on charges of hitting their 13-year old son in the car. Both children were immediately placed in a “Bellevue foster home, based on allegations that they are at risk of harm in their parents’ care due to inappropriate physical force.” The chances of Alice Wang attending the United Nations International Youth Conference in South Korea in August, to be recognized as one of the six finalists worldwide and to compete for a $2,000.00 cash prize, appear to be slim. Her parents’ attorneys have moved the court to transfer the case from Nebraska to their state of residency, California, but there’s no set time for an interstate transfer to occur. The children’s Guardian Ad Litem is recommending that the family not be allowed to leave the country. In a telephone interview with The Omaha World-Herald, Fu said she respected the legal system but has found it very frustrating. She has shipped care packages, including drawing pads, to her daughter.
According to the news story, Alice Wang has entered this contest for six consecutive years and finally won this year, beating 800 other entries. When she attended the regional competition in Washington, D.C. in April 2009, she emphasized the environmental message of her painting: “Because if they can see it from children’s eyes, then maybe they can see that it’s really serious that we really want to stop global warming. If we don’t, then our world will become really polluted.”
That this young girl’s artistic achievement and talent has been overshadowed by alleged family dysfunction is truly a shame. For now, her voice in the court system is her court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem, but I wonder if her next painting will say what she cannot.