Blue & Gold interviews Judy Shepard, mother of murdered student Matthew Shepard, on her expectations of her visit to TAS from Oct 31 to Nov 1. In this exclusive interview with Blue & Gold, she talks about her work fighting homophobia as well as her son’s international school experience.
BG: What are your hopes or expectations for your trip to Taipei American School?
JS: My goal is to share a message of respect and acceptance for all people regardless of how we may perceive their differences.
BG: Can you tell us about your latest projects with the Matthew Shepard Foundation?
JS: We are working on an education program that is interactive on personal computers that can be accessed in privacy of home or classroom.
BG: Have you ever spoken to an international school before? Can you tell us some stories about Matthew’s life at an international school in Switzerland?
JS: I have spoken to international schools before and find that issues faced by all students no matter where you find them are pretty similar. Matt was pretty homesick for awhile but he grew accustomed to his new life fairly quickly. His school was a boarding school so everyone was the new kid. He especially loved the travel that was now so available even encouraged.
BG: Will you tailor your message for this new audience of international students? From your experience, what do you think are the challenges for students at international schools?
JS: My message will be somewhat tailored for this audience but not as much as you might think – as I said earlier, issues are pretty universal. Additional challenges faced by students at international school would be the same as its advantages – everything is new.
BG: How would you like Matthew to be remembered?
JS: I want people to remember Matt as a person who had struggles in his life and was doing his best to succeed as a good person. He was funny, kind, thoughtful and very compassionate.
BG: Is there a message that you have for all of the bullies out there?
JS: I just want them to rethink their decisions. I believe that bullies have issues too and that is why they are bullies. Those issues need to be addressed or they will never be resolved.