Maryland Municipal League (MML) Executive Director Scott Hancock joined facilitators from Canada and Kosovo in a democracy workshop organized by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, December 9-13, 2006, in Kuwait. The purpose of the workshop was to assist representatives from the Gulf Coast Coalition (GCC) Municipal Councils make a final determination on the benefits of establishing an association of municipalities.
The December workshop continued in March as the participants began to develop specific criteria establishing a municipal councils association. In evaluating the impact of the Kuwait experience, Hancock said, "I can truly state that I have never been involved in a program where I felt that I was so much a part of 'making history' as with this workshop."
This was Hancock's first trip to the Middle East, and, although he thought he understood the cultural and political differences, he felt inadequately prepared once he arrived. "As a workshop facilitator, I found myself trying to feel my way along as I spoke about strategic thinking and planning during the three-day workshop," he said. "The culture is so different from ours and the level of democratic maturity is diverse. Kuwait has practiced a certain level of the democracy for more than 20 years, where Saudi Arabia has just started," he continued.
In response to a question about skill building, …