On Saturday, April 6, Saudi Arabian students under the leadership of their President Amel Alsherie and the support of Abdullah Alhadhrami, Abdullah Kalifa and Othman Alsaeed brought their families and friends to explore West Texas nature and culture. Several of the students had made individual trips to Texas Nature Project and other Mason favorite destinations previously, and decided it was time that the entire group find out more about their host state of Texas, and particularly the traditions, arts, culture, architecture, flora and fauna, and hospitality of our seven-generation settlement.
Visitors hiked the wet seasonal creeks and splashed their feet in the spring at Texas Nature Project while digging out the fresh onions, fed and pet horses, and watched Mike Artega do some traditional sheep-shearing. Children collected shiny quartz samples and painted each other’s faces with iron rocks. After sharing a bountiful meal of both American and Mediterranean treats and bowing to Mecca, our group traveled into Mason for Art Walk, starting at the Artisan Gallery where they became fast friends with “real cowboy” musicians. After that, Mayor and First Lady of Mason, Brent and Monica Hinckley warmly welcomed the group on behalf of all Mason residents, and talked more history, politics and antiques.
The cultural exchange is critical to Saudi Arabian students attending schools throughout the US, and Texas Nature Project is particularly proud to host this event for the benefit of the Saudi students and their families, as well as St. Mary’s student volunteers Re’Shea Garrison and Jaclyn Davidson, and the Philosophy Department at St. Mary’s University in furthering their mission of fostering the formation of people in faith and educating leaders for the common good through community. Likewise, this cultural exchange promotes the mission of Texas Nature Project creating sustainable leadership by connecting learning and life.