Matisse: Good morning Mrs. Webber, it is a wonderful afternoon, isn’t it?
Mrs. Webber: Yes it is.
Matisse: What do you love most about afternoons?
Mrs. Webber: I love getting hours free to get something done besides work.
Matisse: Interesting, I also love afternoons.
I specifically love afternoons in La Paz, the busy streets, people finishing work, the wonderful sunsets and all this excitement and movement through the streets that cannot be found in any other place.
Matisse: You have lived several years in La Paz, how would you describe your experiences?
Mrs. Webber: I love La Paz, I have lived here for almost 20 years. La Paz is a crazy city, it is never the same for two days in a row and I like that.
Matisse: What is the one thing you love the most about La Paz?
Mrs. Webber: I love that sometimes you are walking down a street, you turn around a corner, and you can see these snow covered mountains in a distance…it always takes my breath away.
Matisse: What is the best food or plate you’ve tried in La Paz so far?
Mrs. Webber:I’m not a big fan of Bolivian food, but I have to say I love Plato Paceño because I like the fried cheese.
Matisse: You were born in New York City, am I correct?
Mrs. Webber: Yes, I lived in New York and New Jersey until I was ten years old, then I moved to Wisconsin.
Matisse: How would you describe your experiences in Wisconsin?
Mrs. Webber: Have you ever read Archie Comic Books? Archie, Jughead, Betty…well, that was my experience, it was an Archie comic book. My experience was the typical happy days, the American experience, the textbook smiley face kind of like Americana.
Archie, Jughead, Betty Netflix TV show (known as Riverdale):
Archie comic books:
Matisse: How would you describe yourself in high school?
Mrs. Webber: That’s a hard question! I was one of those kids that was part of a lot of things. I was a cheerleader, participated in the band, participated in the school plays, I got good grades…I was in a lot of different things and had many different groups of friends.
Matisse: Were you a good student?
Mrs. Webber: I was not a Cougar Award student, but I had good grades, I was a B student.
Matisse: What is a fashion trend you absolutely loved in high school?
Mrs. Webber: Fashion was never my thing…we used to wear leg warmers, and big head bands like the Madonna headbands that had big flowers on them, I had a lot of those:
Matisse: Tell me about an embarrassing moment during your high school years.
Mrs. Webber: Oh, there probably are so many! I am a very clumsy person, and I remember there used to be a lot of snow and ice in Wisconsin, so I remember slipping and falling down…a lot. People would laugh at me. I would frequently fall down on ice.
Matisse: What is one thing you wanted to change about the world when you were in high school?
Mrs. Webber: It is funny that you asked this question, because I was actually voted the “most likely to change the world” by my high school class. I would say gender inequality, having more rights for women and having women just being respected for being.
Matisse: Would you mind sharing a picture with me of your high school years?
Matisse: Tell me a little about your family (where they came from and their history.)
Mrs. Webber: My father’s family came to the United States from the Netherlands, not long after the pilgrims. My mother’s family is Norwegian and they came to the US probably during the Gilded Age. My grandmother’s first language was Norwegian, she did not even speak English until she was probably ten or eleven years old.
Matisse: How did you end up living in La Paz?
Mrs. Webber: I got a job a long time ago, I was supposed to come to La Paz to work for only eight months, and I have been here for about eighteen years.
Matisse: You have been a member of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s government, am I correct?
Mrs. Webber: I was a consultant for him, but I did not officially work for the government. I was not a public employee.
Matisse: Can you tell me about your experiences working for this political party?
Mrs. Webber: I have tremendous respect for Goni, he is one of the smartest people I have met. Goni made a lot of mistakes as did a lot of people, but as a young professional it was an incredible experience and I learned more in that job than in any of the other jobs I have had.
Matisse: What was the hardest experience you encountered when working for Goni’s government?
Mrs. Webber: I think that when you work in government, you know the time you have is very limited because presidents are elected for four years, and there is so much you want to get done. I think the hardest part was that you never rest. You are in a state of constant exhaustion, and the truth is, the lack of rest leads to a lot of mistakes. People are so tired that they end up making a lot of mistakes that they would not have ever made if they were more rested.
Matisse: In the movie known as “Our Brand Is Crisis”, failing badly in the polls, the Bolivian presidential candidate of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada enlists the services of an American management team for help. The main star is Sandra Bullock, a brilliant strategist, who becomes a down-and-dirty woman, entering an all or out battle between political consultants, where nothing is sacred and winning is all that matters.
Is it true that Sandra Bullock represented you during President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s government?
Mrs. Webber: The short answer is yes. We were a team of people, there were four or five of us, working for Goni. I was the only woman in our team, and so because Sandra Bullock is a woman in that movie, I’d say she is me. But, in reality, her character is a composite of many people in our team.
Matisse: What are your thoughts about this movie?
Mrs. Webber: I loved it. I cried because I felt that there was a lot of things that I remembered from it, and then there is a lot of parts that are very fictionalized. But I loved it.
Link of “Our Brand is Crisis” trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLZo_ILZhfk
Matisse: If you were the President of Bolivia for a day, what would you do or change about this country?
Mrs. Webber: I am not one of those people that believe you can change much in a day, in any country, not just in Bolivia. But one of the things that I feel affects me on a daily basis is the disregard on behalf of most people on basic laws, whether it is stopping in a red light or letting pedestrians cross the street, picking up your garbage. These are some of the things I would like to see changed in the short term.
Matisse: How did you go from working in President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s government to becoming an ACS teacher?
Mrs. Webber: Being a consultant is a job where you answer your phone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, plus I traveled all the time. After I got married and my second child was born, I took a year off because I needed to be with my children. After taking a year off I decided I did not want to be a political consultant anymore, so I started volunteering at school and tutored, obtaining a sense of what I really liked. Then I became a TA and was surprised at how much I liked being a teacher. It was a great decision that makes me really happy, it was also a big change that I made when I was older because I was old at the time in order to become a teacher.
Matisse: What is the one thing you enjoy most about teaching?
Mrs. Webber: Everyday somebody asks me a question about a topic I think I know everything about, and I realize I have so much more to learn.
Matisse: As a US History teacher, who is your favorite US President and why?
Mrs. Webber: Barack Obama, because he just inspired me in real time, not as a historian, but in real time I found him incredibly inspiring.
Matisse: Do you believe you will work in the future for some political party again?
Mrs. Webber: Sure, I would never say no.
Matisse: Mrs. Webber, I have an observed you have a very strong opinion about feminism and women’s rights, would you please elaborate on these thoughts?
Mrs. Webber: I grew up in a house where the idea that girls were not as capable as boys never existed, it was never an issue. As I got older, this was an issue. I remember when I was in highschool, a lot of my friends knew my mother as the mom who went to college, because the rest of the moms did not go to college…for me it was so normal, but for the rest of my female friends this was a big deal. The older I became, the more I realized there is a tremendous amount of sexism in the world, women are viewed as far more inferior than men…I think this is not true, so I would like to show that to everyone.
Matisse: Do you believe there is gender inequality in ACS?
Mrs. Webber: I believe there is gender inequality everywhere.
Matisse: If you were ACS’ principal or superintendent, what would be a thing you would change about this school?
Mrs. Webber: I would start an hour later.
Matisse: Last but not least, what advice would you give to any high school student?
Mrs. Webber: School is important, but it is not the only thing. You are not judged by your grades, you are judged by your character. It is far more important to know yourself and live your best life than to always worry about your grades.
Matisse: What a wonderful interview, thank you for your time.
Mrs. Webber: You are welcome, Matisse.