Dr. David B. Morris (Alumnus 1984)

German Area Specialist, European Division, Library of Congress

A great friend whom I first met in Strobl in 1984, Alexander Ribbink, recently sent me the Sommerhochschule’s letter about its 60th anniversary asking alumni to share some memories. People of a certain age get such requests now and then, but this one was different. I was immediately transported back to those beautiful weeks on the Wolfgangsee—the mist over the lake in the morning, the summer sun as it made its way over the mountains, the lingering evenings scented with grass and flowers, and the joy and delight in making new and enduring friendships.

The few weeks in Strobl were only the starting point for an entire year in Europe which included Germany and Italy, but they were extremely important for my future education and career. In Strobl I conquered the Konjunktiv I und II, learned about the arcana of European integration, and developed a keener awareness of European party politics. Because of Strobl, when I returned to the States I changed my major to international studies, in which I eventually earned my doctorate.

But the fondest memories were formed outside the classroom, which is as it should be. Skinny-dipping in the Wolfgangsee is mandatory and should be made a formal part of the curriculum. The Bösendorfer in the Seehaus inspired me and Wouter den Haerynck to perform a Liederabend, something which we repeated two years later when I found myself in Europe again. (I’m afraid our rehearsing earned us the lasting enmity of two cohorts of Seehaus residents.) Another classmate, the Japanese diplomat Kazuhiro Hashimoto, lent me his BMW so I could attend the Salzburg Festival, where I saw Marilyn Horne and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. (Horne performed eight encores and could have kept singing all night.) And then there was the variety show at the end of the program, in which I had the honor of impersonating the venerable Professor Hanspeter Neuhold—to evidently good effect, as he had tears of laughter streaming down his face when I shook his hand afterwards.

A place and a program like the Sommerhochschule can be a transformative experience, provide cherished memories, and open up new relationships and ways of looking at the world. It did all those things for me, as I know it has for many others. Long may it flourish."


David B. Morris, Wshington D.C.
Strobl Alumnus 1984