Matisse: Good afternoon, Mrs. van Strien.
Ms. van Strien: Good afternoon, Matisse.
Matisse:What do you love most about afternoons?
Ms. van Strien: This beautiful sunshine. Sometimes I just feel like a cat, lounging in the sun.
Matisse: Interesting. What do you love most about life?
Ms. van Strien: Everyday is a new opportunity, every minute is.
Matisse: You’re a new addition to the Crayola Crayon Box. What color would you be and why?
Ms. van Strien: Sky blue, because I love the freedom associated with that. It makes me think of birds and happy things.
Matisse:We finish this interview, you step outside your classroom door and find $10 million. What would you do?
Ms. van Strien: I would have a party for all my students.
Matisse:What’s your favorite song?
Ms. van Strien: “The Logical Song” by Supertramp.
Matisse: If you could be any animal in the world, which would you be and why?
Ms. van Strien: I’d probably be a bear. I was saying this the other day, they are hairy, they are grumpy and they get to sleep and eat a lot…sounds pretty good to me.
Matisse:What were you like in high school?
Ms. van Strien: I sang in a band, I played instruments. I was very concerned about fashion, I was one of the fashionistas at the school. I was also one of those kids who pretty much got along with everybody and rotated around different groups.
Matisse:Tell me a little about your background story.
Ms. van Strien: I was born in Canada, I’m the youngest of 5 girls, very very strict parents, really put an emphasis on education (it was something that was really important to my parents.) My dad was an immigrant to Canada after to WW2 from Holland. Work ethic and family was really important when growing up.
Matisse:What was a trend you absolutely love during your teenage years?
Ms. van Strien: BIG hair.
Matisse: Would you mind sharing a picture with me and the Cougar Press of your teenage years?
Ms. van Strien:
Matisse:Before being a teacher in ACS, what did you dedicate yourself to?
Ms. van Strien: I have been teaching at international schools for the last 10 years. Before that, I was teaching at university and colleges in Canada. I also had a career in event planning as well as with the elderly and disabled.
Matisse:What do you work towards on your free time?
Ms. van Strien: I do not have a lot of free time now, things I would like to take up again is to swim, write everyday and yoga.
Matisse:What would your last meal be, if you were next on a serial killers list?
Ms. van Strien: Turkey dinner with all the trimmings (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn, pumpkin pie for dessert…all that yumminess.
Matisse:What superpower would you like to have?
Ms. van Strien: The ability to be kind at all times, and inspire others to be kind as well.
Matisse:Where would you go in a time machine?
Ms. van Strien: I would keep skipping forward and going backwards.
Matisse: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been to?
Ms. van Strien: One of the most special places I’ve had the opportunity to visit is Chalalán in Madidi. I had never seen something like the parrot sanctuary I visited.
Matisse:What is your favorite holiday?
Ms. van Strien: Halloween.
Matisse:What’s a book you have recently read and that you would recommend?
Ms. van Strien: I am reading one in class right now called “The House on Mango Street”and it is fantastic, it is written by an Latina Author. Her novel is a series of very short vignettes (half a page to three pages) and yet what she can do in half a page is absolutely incredible.
Matisse:Who is your favorite author?
Ms. van Strien: My favorite most modern author is Dionne Brand, she is a Caribbean-Canadian writer and poet, and just all around an amazing person, i’ve had the opportunity to meet her a couple times. I also love Sherman Alexie, he is an aboriginal writer, he is very honest and raw.
Matisse:What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Ms. van Strien: My mother used to tell me, “Live your life as though everything you do is like front page headlines.” Of Course, this was before the internet appeared, and it has caught me a couple times…if I am ashamed of doing it, then why should I be doing it?
Matisse:What is the best thing about being an English teacher in ACS?
Ms. van Strien: Generally speaking, the kids here are awesome. I actually really enjoy my students.
Matisse:What is the hardest thing about being an English teacher in ACS?
Ms. van Strien: My students. I do not always feel that I am sending off my students to university fully prepared, and that is something that worries me.
Matisse: If you could give an message to any highschool student in ACS, what would it be?
Ms. van Strien: Be honorable.
Matisse :Last but not least, how would you describe yourself in three words?
Ms. van Strien: Loyal, curious and a worry-board (because I worry about people a lot.)
Matisse: Thank you for this amazing interview!
Ms. van Strien: I had a really fun time, thank you!