At first there were two Genevieve Wilsons, identical twin girls. Their stepfather marked their faces with small cuts to distinguish them: one stripe beside each eye for Genevieve 1, the daughter who died as the family fled Liberia's civil war. Two stripes for her sister.
Now, Genevieve 2 with a pair of black scars shaped like quotation marks around her eyes, is a vibrant fourth grader at Atlanta's International Community School, an artist and poet who hopes to become a fashion designer. Yesterday, that dream took her someplace she never envisioned: to meet film star and refugee advocate Angelina Jolie.
This spring, members of Genevieve's class - down the hall from Bill Clinton Hadam's third-grade room - made posters about their lives for a contest sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Genevieve wrote about her mother, her twin, and her plan to return to Africa: "because," as she wrote, "Liberia needs a fashion designer."
On her poster, Genevieve's face bears her stepfather's markings, two beside each eye. The piece won first prize in her age group.
Yesterday - along with her mother, teacher Drew Whitelegg [link to his referee badge blog], and assistant principal Tahisha Edwards - Genevieve was recognized for her artwork in an emotional ceremony at the National Geographic Museum, where her poster will be on display for thecelebrations surrounding World Refugee Day tomorrow.
Genevieve told her story in a 3-part poem on her winning poster.
My Name Is Genevieve
by Genevieve Wilson
My mother is a very nice woman.
She took care of me when I was a baby and
She is still taking care of me and that's why I still love her.
She suffered to bring me to America. I will try to go to
Fashion college and get a degree to go back to Africa
Because Liberia needs a fashion designer.
Sister I Love
My sister and I were born on the same day which was July 29 1997.
I still love her but she passed away before we came to America.
We were identical twins. My mom and stepdad couldn't tell us apart.
So my dad put two marks on my face and one on my sister.
I was Genevieve 2 and she was Genevieve 1.
My name is Genevieve Wilson
I am 11 Years old. I have 2 big brothers.
I am the only girl in my family. I love myself.
When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer.
I would like to go back to Liberia when I grow up.
I am a nice, smart, and Beautiful girl.