When hosting German journalists, it’s important to confirm their worst stereotypes about America. I suspect a rousing round of skeet shooting during a weekend at Airlie Convention Center fit the bill. Our thoughtful range guides offered instruction in handling semi-automatic shotguns against the backdrop of Virginia’s stunning scenery while the Germans discussed the composition of the ammunition and jumped each time someone fired:
Airlie is a conference center styled as a southern manor estate, where cicadas drown out birdsong, fireflies bob over vegetable gardens in the evening, the humidity hugs you like quicksand, and Burns fellows tend to miss breakfast. Rumors that a renowned German journalist rode a bike into the pool during a previous year’s visit unintentionally set a high bar. The challenge was accepted with grace and fortitude:
At the end of the weekend we Americans said heartfelt goodbyes to our German counterparts- an accomplished, hilarious, and lovely bunch, the lot of them. At Dulles International Airport we had one last chance to embrace American consumerism, but inhaled Chipotle rather than trucking FBI hoodies overseas.
We boarded an overnight flight to Frankfurt and arrived as a group in Berlin. I’ve taken up residency in Neukölln and am enjoying taking the U-Bahn to class and plodding through das (die? der?) impossible German articles.