While many are familiar with the signature events that make up the annual Memphis in May International Festival, there’s also a wealth of enriching educational opportunities that expose local residents to the culture and customs of the honored country. One such opportunity is the Memphis in May Student Exchange Program.
Every spring, Memphis in May takes a group of 11th and 12th-grade students to the festival’s honored country for 10-12 days of exploration at no cost to the student. For 2020, students will be traveling to Ghana, Africa.
Exchange students stay with host families in the host country to experience the culture first-hand. They do some sightseeing, build lasting friendships, and even get a glimpse of high school life by sitting in on some classes. Students participate in prep sessions before they leave so that they’re oriented to the culture and understand what’s expected of them as ambassadors. Select students will be asked to speak about their experiences in public forums when they return home.
Here are a few testimonials from students who traveled to the Czech Republic in 2018:
Going to the Czech Republic was a transformative experience that I will never forget. I still cannot believe that for a week, I got the chance to fully indulge in a culture that was different than mine. This trip has opened my eyes to the different ways of the world and has opened my mind to the idea of more travel. I am happy to say that I’ve had an experience like this because every single day of my trip was filled with love and joy. I would like to thank Memphis In May, for allowing me to experience something so great.
I thought I admired the Czech Republic before I stepped foot on the country’s soil, but it wasn’t until I saw the places and met the people around me that I came to appreciate the Czech Republic to the extent that I do now. I could write for pages about each marvelous experience that I had while away, but I don’t know if that’s necessary. Rather, suffice to say that I made memories and friendships I will treasure forever and am eagerly anticipating saving up enough money to buy a plane ticket and fulfill my host family’s request that I visit them and their country again. Earlier this month I thought I had successfully crossed an item off my bucket list, but now I see that my trip to the Czech Republic only sparked a desire to fill that list with more and more future adventures.
My adventure in the Czech Republic exceeded all of my expectations. I could not have asked for a better group of people to go with (Alissa was an outstanding chaperone) and better people to host me. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. I lived with people I had never met before; I traveled to Europe alone without my family. These significant obstacles I overcame grew my interest in traveling and interacting with individuals worldwide. Thank you to Memphis in May for having this program that allows students, of all backgrounds, to absorb different cultures and creating lasting friendships. I would apply again next year if I could.