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Here's how Walmart chooses the workers who attend its annual meeting

For many of Walmart's (WMT) associates, this week's annual shareholders meeting will be their first time traveling.

For some, that means it could even be the first time they’re leaving their home country.

Walmart is the world's largest retailer, operating more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide.

Every year, a few thousand associates are selected by their peers to travel to northwest Arkansas for associates week and the annual meeting.

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The big box retailer has “about 1,000 associates coming from all of our 26 countries, and that energy will be extraordinary,” Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna told Yahoo Finance.

“For many of them, it'll be the first time they've traveled in," she added.

The annual gathering, held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, just down the road from Walmart's hometown of Bentonville, draws a crowd of nearly 14,000 investors and employees to hear from senior management, listen to live music, and celebrate the associates.

"We're going to talk about innovation, new ways of working, and creativity. But this week is a celebration of our associates,” McKenna said.

“So everything we're going to talk about is going to be centered around people, and it's going to be centered around them," she added.

The largest U.S. employer holds massive stakes of retail, real estate and human capital.

In order to secure a spot, Walmart associates attending the yearly confab are part of something resembling a lottery.

According to the company, all odd-numbered stores in the U.S. this year can send one hourly associate who has been with the company for at least one full year— and has achieved a rating of "Solid Performer" or higher, and hold Walmart stock. In 2020, even-numbered stores will do the same.

For the international division, the process is slightly different and varies from country to country.

"Very often, they have a selection process. So people who have just been great ambassadors in the store get nominated by other associates, and they get chosen to go,” McKenna said, adding there are “different reasons” for choosing attendees.

"But we say to all of them they're there for a reason, and they're there because they're special,” she added.

Dorms, meetings and ‘a day long party’

During the week, associates stay in dormitories on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, where they'll meet folks from around the world. They'll attend their respective business unit meetings where they'll see innovations for the stores.

They'll also get to tour the Home Office and Walmart Museum in Bentonville, visit the Expo which is described as "basically a day-long party," and watch a free concert.

The big event will happen during the Friday Associates Meeting at the Bud Walton Arena.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - JUNE 1: Walmart associates from China during the annual shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The shareholders week brings thousands of shareholders and associates from around the world to meet at the company's global headquarters. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

"[They] get to take a little bit of Shareholders and a little bit of Bentonville back to their teams as well,” said McKenna.

“And one of the things I'll be telling our international team is they're not 1,000 strong. They're actually 700,000 strong because they represent everybody around the world," she added.

McKenna attended her first meeting almost 20 years ago, a few years after Walmart acquired Asda in 1998 and entered the U.K. market.

"I came to the first one, and I stayed in Fayetteville. I shared a room. I walked up those hills in the rain, and I got up early for breakfast. I experienced it all firsthand, and it's nothing I had ever seen before."

The meeting back then was much smaller than today's extravaganza. McKenna stated that while the atmosphere is different, the excitement remains the same.

"It was a smaller meeting, but the atmosphere that it created...it just made me feel a little bit more in love with the company because it's unique,” she stated. “And once you've seen it and touched it, it gives you an insight into the culture like nothing else.”

A livestream of the event will be available on Yahoo Finance on June 7.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.