I think it’s about time to introduce you to your eleventh WPI fellow – the red van or Berta, as I call it, is going to be your long-term companion during the first three weeks of your stay in the United States.

She will take you north and south – on the roads of Minnesota. To some legendary places – such as Highway 61 – Bob Dylan’s road from Minnesota to the world.

Well, this road takes us to our first stop – Ely. If you want to feel like a real rock star – this is your place!

It’s pretty much like a UN meeting, but smaller

Otherwise it’s a great opportunity for you to learn what the perception is of the local Americans about your country and learn more about the challenges that your fellow colleagues meet in their everyday work. Did you know that in India 17 journalists were killed in 2017 alone? Or that in Myanmar foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country? 


I don’t know about the people of Ely, but for me this meeting was more than interesting. The other day, our visit was featured in the local newspaper – Ely Echo (thanks to the editor Anne Swenson and her team). I told you – it feels like being a real rock star!

Of course – you don’t want to skip a conversation with the locals about the political situation in the country.

So it’s good to know that the state of Minnesota is pretty much a “blue area” – people here usually vote for the Democrats in national elections. Actually Richard Nixon was the last Republican to win the state of Minnesota in a presidential race – that was 46 years ago. 1972). These days, the situation in the Twin Cities has not changed a lot, but if you go out in the countryside, the preferences of the people become more and more “purple” – with plenty of people voting for the Republicans and Donald Trump in the last elections. So in Ely you can often hear old friends discussing the situation. One thing both sides agree on– that the country has not been so polarized since the Vietnam war. But enough politics for today! It’s time for some fun! But enough politics for today! It’s time for some fun!

Masters of canoeing and s’more new friends

In Ely you can also meet some of these:

Or some of these. Hopefully – not in the woods, but in the International Wolf Center.

Lori Schmidt has spent 30 years of her life here. She knows the wolves so well that she can even teach us their language.


But the most important thing – you are definitely going to meet plenty of hospitable, lovely families, who can make you feel at home and who can always teach you some new, fancy things.

With my lovely host family – Cristy and Mike Frazier

In my case – how to prepare the famous local dessert on fire – cracker, chocolate and marshmellow – A.K.A – s’more – once you try it, you will want to have some more!

You always want s’more!

Tip of the day: 

Or at least try to find a way to have some sleep while traveling

Unknown WPI fellow who is trying to have some sleep in the red van