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AfterWorkSauna on International Relations

View the photo gallery here.
On the 22nd of March the Young Professionals of the Finnish Dutch Chamber of Commerce had their first AfterWorkSauna in Da Costa Badhuis & Sauna in Amsterdam with the theme ‘International Relations’. Venla Virkamäki (Netherlands Embassy in Helsinki) and Panu Toiviainen (Europol) told us all about their work place and international experience.

The evening was started with a two-hour sauna session in the community bath house Da Costa in Amsterdam. We got a warm welcome from our host and got to enjoy the traditional Finnish sauna and a steam bath. After this, Venla introduced us into the world of embassies and international trade. Besides discussing buzzwords such as ‘circular economy’ and ‘start-ups' she also told us more in general what the benefits and downsides are of working for the Dutch government as a Finnish citizen”. Besides meeting interesting people the work is very diverse and main themes change quickly, causing one to learn continually. The cooperation among Embassies of the Netherlands in the Baltics and Nordic countries was pointed out, causing her to jokingly remind everyone that the Netherlands might as well be a Nordic country.

Whereas Venla focused on positive sides of international cooperation, Panu’s story had a somewhat darker note. His work for Europol involves analysing data on international illegal migration to Europe. Over six years ago he was seconded to Europol from the Helsinki Police Department. He started in the Firearms department, but recently he moved to the European Migrant Smuggling Centre, which attempts to aid the European Union’s member states in the battle against illegal migrant smuggling.  Europol serves as a support centre for law enforcement operations, as a hub for information on criminal activities an it’s also a centre for law enforcement expertise. The presentation intrigued several curious questions on Panu’s work, as this certainly is an organization we don’t come across too often on our daily lives.

A clear contrast was noticeable between the lives of these professionals. Both work in an international environment, but this has impacted their lives in totally different ways. Venla got to live her life in her native environment, with her Finnish family in their own native environments. Panu admitted to living his life in a ‘Europol bubble’, where the contact with Dutch people remains limited, but his kids grow up with a more conscious European identity. His presentation intrigued several fascinated questions, since 

These two stories balanced each other nicely, giving a very complete picture of how international careers can lead to completely different outcomes in terms of work, subjects with which one deals on a daily basis and the ways in which this impacts their daily lives. 

Overall the evening was a success and we hope to organize more AfterWork events at this 114-year old community sauna. Thank you to the participants and our presentators for the evening. 

View the photo gallery here.