About Our Education Program

Creating a Global Classroom

Memphis in May International Festival believes that education is an integral part of any festival. International awareness is at the core of the Memphis in May International Festival’s commitment to the education of the Mid-South community, children and adults alike. Each year, the area’s youth immerse themselves in the culture of our honored country through our curriculum guide, student competitions, international exchanges, and more!

While Memphis in May International Festival fosters the education of an entire community, our focus begins on the youth of the area. Memphis in May’s goal: by the time a student graduates from high school, they will have had the opportunity to experience the customs and cultures of 12 different countries from around the world. Each year, Memphis in May accomplishes this goal through an extensive and diverse youth education program offered to every student and school in the Memphis and Shelby County area, including over 200 city and county schools, dozens of private schools, and a very active home school association.

Our award-winning education program would not be possible without the support and assistance of corporate partners and our international friends. Educators, artists, and writers in the local community come together and give their time to judge the Festival’s numerous educational contests.Memphis in May International Festival has been able to build relationships in the community that allow the education program to continue to grow, thrive and benefit the entire community.

Microsoft Best Canadian Classroom Competition

Introducing the Official Microsoft Memphis in May International Classroom Program

This year we are making it easier to sign up for our programs and integrate the Memphis in May Curriculum into your classroom activities. Memphis in May provides easy to use resources to enable teachers to integrate education about the honored country in to your classroom.

International Classroom Competition: Memphis in May will recognize teachers that utilize these resources during the year as an Official Memphis in May International Classroom. A minimum level of participation is required.

Why Should You Become a Memphis in May International Classroom?

International awareness is at the core of Memphis in May International Festival’s commitment to the education of the Mid-South community. Memphis in May’s goal: by the time they graduate, students should have the opportunity to experience the customs and cultures of 12 different countries from around the world. Help us achieve that goal by starting in your classroom! 

Participation is easy! Just incorporate a combination of Memphis in May resources into your classroom. Register below:


Resources for Teachers

Bringing International Culture to Memphis Classrooms

2016 Memphis in May International Teachers Conference

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 • 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Teaching and Learning Academy 
2485 Union Avenue • Memphis, TN 38112

Each February, Memphis in May holds an annual International Teachers' Conference, an opportunity for area teachers and educators to obtain valuable resources and the knowledge necessary to incorporate international culture into their classrooms.  Everyone in attendance obtains professional development credits for their attendance. The conference is offered free of charge each year to Memphis-area teachers and educators. 

Every year, the conference honors a new country and teaches educators about the country's history, geography, art, culture, and science, distributing activities and lesson plans for their curriculum.


Education Newsletter (Fall 2015)

Download a copy of the Fall 2015 Education Newsletter here.

Curriculum Guide

The 2016 curriculum guide for Canada is available for download below.

Download Full

Sections divided by grade level are available below:

Download K-2 Download 3-5

Download 6-8 Download 9-12

Archived Resources

BlueCross Blue Shield World Cargo Crate

Bringing the World to the Classrooms of Memphis

Teachers! Share the culture of the honored country with HANDS ON artifacts designed to teach young minds.

Memphis in May offers crates of cargo from the honored country which travel to numerous schools in the Shelby County area between January and May. Four wooden crates are each filled with items that are unique to the honored country and offer insight into the culture; some items included are musical instruments, currency, arts and crafts, books and magazines, maps, etc.

Teachers may sign up to receive a traveling crate, and each school is allowed to keep the crate for one week, during which time students can examine the items and learn about the honored country. Memphis in May also provides a World Cargo Guide, which provides a description of each item in the crate and its cultural significance. The crates provide a hands on way to learn about another culture. Your reservation may be made for any week between January through May. The crate will be delivered to your school before noon on the Monday of your week, and picked up on the following Monday morning by 10:00 a.m., courtesy of Blue Sky Couriers.

Reserve the World Cargo Crate by clicking the link below.

Reserve Today

Congratulations to Carol Percival at Woodland Presbyterian School for winning the 2015 Blue Cross Blue Shield World Cargo Crate Photo Contest!

Educational Performances

Information regarding educational performances will be released beginning December 2015.

In-School Canadian Performances 

Memphis in May is proud to offer area schools the opportunity to host school performances at their school during International Week. The performances will be held on May 9 (Mon.), May 10 (Tue.), May 11 (Wed.), and May 12 (Thur.), 2016. Performances are scheduled during school hours and in conjunction with the school schedule.

To request that your school host a performance, please complete and submit the form linked below by April 8, 2016. We will notify you on April 15, 2016 if we were able to accommodate your school on the tour this year.

Request Today

School Competitions

Bringing Canada to Memphis Classrooms in 2016

While each of Memphis in May’s educational competitions are judged on differing criteria, every Memphis in May competition encourages a show of creativity and demonstrated knowledge of the honored country. Competitions are geared to specific age groups and grade levels, with involvement opportunities available for all grades.

Competitions are open to all students attending public, private, or home school within Shelby County, Tennessee. Applications are made available on the Memphis in May website as well as via mass mailings to schools. Judging committees are comprised of local educators, writers, and artists who kindly volunteer their time to examine entries. Competition winners are awarded certificates and savings bond prizes at an awards ceremony in the spring.

Sedgwick International Teacher Competition

All Grades and Subject Areas

Now teachers have the chance to win alongside their students! Whether you always celebrate the honored country with Memphis in May, or whether you are considering incorporating Memphis in May into your classroom for the first time, this competition is for you! Memphis in May will recognize the teachers with the most outstanding “global classrooms,” teachers who utilize international programming to supplement their curriculum and introduce a foreign culture to their students. The "International Teacher" Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,000, and one Runner Up will receive $500.

Application Coming Soon

Microsoft Best Canadian Classroom Competition

All Grades and Subject Areas

Teachers, you can win a $1,000 cash prize just for your school by incorporating our honored country into your classroom decoration! Involve your students in decorating your classroom with a theme based on this exotic and exciting country of contrasts and extreme beauty. This competition is open to any public or private elementary, middle, junior, or senior high classroom teacher in the Memphis metro area, including all of Shelby County. Teachers should submit a completed entry form along with a minimum of three photographs that show the components incorporated into the classroom design. The entry form should also include the teacher's description of the design and the teaching goals that the decorations accomplish.


PowerPoint Presentation Competition

6-12 Grade Students (Middle and High School Categories)

Due to the interest expressed by middle school teachers and administrators, a 6-8 grade category has been added to the PowerPoint Competition! Allow your middle school students to learn about international culture and gain increasingly valuable computer program technology with this fun program.

The PowerPoint Presentation Competition promotes design creativity and allows students to incorporate what they have learned about the honored country through overall presentation, graphic design, and written word. This competition is a wonderful tool to acquaint students with PowerPoint, an increasingly valuable program in the business world, all while exposing them to international culture. First, second, and third place winners will be chosen in two grade categories: 6-8 grade, and 9-12 grades.

The competition is open to students attending any public, private or home school within the Memphis metro area.

Download Application

Creative Writing Competition

4-12 Grade Students

The Creative Writing Competition promotes literary creativity and allows students to incorporate what they have learned about the honored country through the written word. Creative Writing Competition entries can include any type of literary, fictional or non-fictional work, including but not limited to poems, essays, short stories, plays, narratives, scripts and biographies.

The competition is open to students in grades 4-12 attending any public, private, or home school within the Memphis metro area. First, second, and third place winners will be chosen in three grade categories: Upper Elementary, 4th-5th grades; Junior, 6th-8th grades; Senior, 9th-12th grades.


Valero Children's Poster Competition

K-6 Grade Students

This competition promotes the creative artistry of students in grades K – 6. Patterned after Memphis in May’s Fine Art Poster Program, the student’s work must depict some aspect of the honored country through the medium of drawing and coloring. One student will become the Grand Prize winner, and his/her work will then be printed and sold by Memphis in May as the 2015 International Children’s Poster. The Grand Prize winner will sign and number 100 of the prints. Since there will be a limited number of signed and numbered prints, this lucky young artist’s poster has the potential of becoming a unique collector’s item. First, second, and third place winners will also be chosen in three grade categories:K - 2nd grades; 3rd - 4th grades; and 5th - 6th grades.

Download Application

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee World Cargo Crate Photo Contest

In 2009, Memphis in May added a new school competition – the World Cargo Crate Photo Contest. This competition encourages teachers to use their camera to capture very special moments in their classrooms. The photographic entries portray special “learning moments” between the students, their teachers, and the unique items from the honored country. As most of these items are foreign to the students, their reactions of interest, surprise, and curiosity are clearly visible in the photos. The winning teacher receives the privilege of being the first to reserve the World Cargo Crate for the upcoming school year, along with a Memphis in May prize package. The winning teachers and students also get to see their pictures displayed on the Memphis in May website as “the face” of the World Cargo Crate for the next year.

To Enter the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee World Cargo Crate Photo Contest

Each classroom may enter up to five photos of their students with the World Cargo Crate items. Each entry must also provide the following information: teacher’s name and title, school name, school phone number, school address, teacher’s evening phone number and email address (Teachers have the option of also submitting a title for each photo.). The contest is open to any public or private elementary, middle, or high school within Shelby County. All photos and accompanying information must be digital and either emailed to: or mailed/brought on a CD to:
BCBS World Cargo Crate Photo Contest
56 S Front St.
Memphis, TN 38103

Entry deadline is 5:00pm on Friday, May 20, 2016.

One entry of a maximum five photos allowed per teacher/classroom.

Learn more about the World Cargo Crate and request one for your school here.

Congratulations to Carol Percival at Woodland Presbyterian School for winning the 2015 Blue Cross Blue Shield World Cargo Crate Photo Contest! (photo by Carol Percival)

For questions or information about any of our International Education Competitions, please email

Student Exchange Program

The Memphis in May Student Exchange Program provides selected students and a chaperone with an all-expense paid, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the culture of our honored country. Each year, students are selected based on communication skills, grades, and community service.

2016 Student Exchange Trip to Canada

A delegation of high school students and a chaperone will be selected to serve as Exchange Students for Memphis in May International Festival, and will have the opportunity to travel to Canada during March 2016 (travel dates to be determined). Selected students and chaperone will stay with host families and will attend classes at a host high school. The Memphis in May International Festival funds the round-trip airfare for each student and coordinates all arrangements with the host country.

Application forms are supplied to unified Shelby County and private high schools. To be considered, applicants must provide a completed application form (found below), official school transcript, a 500 - 1,000 word essay, and three letters of recommendation, no later than Dec. 4, 2015, and be available for an interview by the selection panel in early January of 2016. 

Student Exchange Applications

Student Application Chaperone Application

About the Student Exchange Program

Each spring, a group of Memphis in May exchange students travels to Memphis in May's honored country for 10-12 days - enough time to give students a true taste of the country without interfering with their school year. All students stay with selected host families in the host country, attend classes at a host high school, visit famous monuments and landmarks, and experience a different culture first-hand. Prior to travel, preparation sessions are held with emphasis on orientation to the culture and country the students will visit, along with travel details and student responsibilities as Memphis in May ambassadors. The program is offered at no charge to the students or accompanying chaperone. Selected students are encouraged to share their experiences and new knowledge of the honored country with local school and community groups after their return. The Memphis in May Student Exchange Program is open to any 11th or 12th grade student enrolled in a public, private, or authorized home school within Shelby County; the student must be enrolled from August to June of the current school year. Teachers, parents, guidance counselors, and administrators are encouraged to recommend high school juniors and seniors to apply for this unique opportunity each fall. Applications are posted at the beginning of each school year. Contact Carley Kirby, Program Assistant.

What People are Saying About the Student Exchange Program

Memphis Exchange Students

"I’d like to send out a huge thank you to the Memphis in May organization for orchestrating this entire trip. It’s truly been a blessing to be able to bring the culture and pride of the city of Memphis to the people of Warsaw. I believe that we’ve all been very fortunate to observe the culture and lifestyle of a country such as Poland, given that we’re given rare opportunities to study the nation. The program has definitely given me an insight into the similarities and differences between our hometown and that of our hosts, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to share this experience with a group of such worldly, talented, and intelligent students from both Warsaw and Memphis. You’ve all touched my life in ways unimaginable, and I hope to stay in contact with you all in the future!"

- Ron, 2015 Exchange Student to Poland

"Because of Memphis in May, I was granted an experience of a lifetime. I never thought that I would have such an experience when coming to Poland. It has truly given me great joy and has completely changed me. I loved everything about Polska and if I could, I would redo my experience 100 times more. It’s astounding how 10 days can create such an honorary experience and even give you a new family. I’m so blessed to have known the host families, who offered 12 strangers their love and hospitality and treated us as their own. I can’t wait until they come to Memphis and experience our culture! I hope we replicate the same amazing adventure and transform their lives as they have transformed ours."

- Ajia, 2015 Exchange Student to Poland

Host Families

"It was with great pride and joy that I watched my husband and children nurture this amazing student.  Everyone in the family wanted to make sure she felt comfortable....She was very open about life in Tunisia and it gave all of us a greater sense of unity....It was a great experience and hopefully we will have another opportunity to host a foreign student."

- LeeAnn Kelly, Host Mom to 2010 Tunisian student

"This was a really great experience for our entire family!  We loved having Thomas and Branco.  In fact, after they left I went into Branco's room and he had left us a picture he drew and a lovely long letter thanking us for our hospitality.  I cried!!  Such sweet students!"

- Lisa Browne, Host Mom to 2009 Chilean students


"As a teacher, I was able to obtain valuable practical experience and applied professional development opportunities that have improved my language fluency and cultural competency.  The cultural richness of Chile provided me with opportunities that simply cannot be replicated through videos and other instructional aids."

- Kim Pitts, Arlington High School, 2009 Chaperone to Chile

"I had a lot of fun seeing my students learn from their own experiences in Tunisia....Overall, I was very impressed with every student on the trip. They all adapted and coped very well. They were all also very polite, intelligent and kind individuals. They made my job as a chaperone very easy, and we had a lot of fun as a result...Thanks to Memphis in May for giving me this opportunity, I hope to be able to match the efforts made by Tunisians for their families. The emphasis and importance placed on education in Tunisia has also motivated me as an educator."

- Ludovic Bruneau, White Station High School, 2010 Chaperone to Tunisia