SAN ANTONIO – Tucked away in the corner of the Cattle Barn is the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo's International Room. A colorful world map welcomes special guests who have come from all parts of the world to experience and learn about Texas agriculture.
In 2018, volunteers from the International Committee welcomed 2,500 international guests from 103 different countries. On this occasion, 45 military officials were greeted with a pink bandanna and a pin to commemorate the visit and stand out during their rodeo grounds tour.
The countries represented today by the group include Jordan, Colombia, Mexico, Japan and Morocco. They're hosted by the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, and today they took a break from their English courses for an immersive Texas experience.
While exploring the Animal Adventures area, Essam Aldroubi, a major in the Jordanian Armed Forces, said, "My dream came true because I used to watch cowboy movies, and now I've just seen a cowboy! I feel like I'm in the desert and riding a horse."
Leading the group is Robert Allen, a volunteer who has been sharing his knowledge with this particular committee for a decade.
"My job is to make sure our international guests experience a true San Antonio rodeo, to educate and share the wealth and magic."
The guests learn about the historical aspects, how students raise their own livestock and the importance of agriculture in Texas. It also strengthens the relationship between the international military officials and U.S. military.
"We have a very nice relationship wit the U.S.. They are an amazin ally. We have personnel form the U.S. military that comes to Jordan. They have courses in Jordan, and they train the personnel in the Jordanian Armed Forces," said Aldroubi.
Aldroubi and the other members will be in the U.S. for about four months before they head back home to teach English to their respective military officers.
They hope to bring a piece of San Antonio back home with them.
"My good friend asked me to bring him a cowboy hat and boots. I'll take one for me," said Aldroubi.
Each day the International Committee gives tours to multiple groups and provides a Texas-style meal for the full experience.