The Institute’s new intern started work far from sunny Beirut

Mikko LehikoinenMikko Lehikoinen joined the Institute as its new intern in February.

Mikko holds an MSc in Advanced Arabic from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Helsinki. Alongside his Arabic studies, Mikko has familiarised himself extensively with the history, politics, and societies of several Middle Eastern countries. His master’s dissertations completed in 2018 and 2019 focused on social media use among Syrian regime supporters, and gender and sexuality in Egyptian media.

– The Middle East is a hugely diverse and complex entity. After several years of study, I feel like I know a little about a lot of things, and then just a little bit more about one or two topics.

Mikko, who recently moved back to Helsinki after living in Scotland for a couple of years, has had the opportunity to put his skills to use in very different kinds of jobs.

– Knowing Arabic has opened up all sorts of opportunities. In Finland, I worked at the Finnish Immigration Service for a couple of years, while in Scotland I worked at the financial crime unit of one of the country’s biggest banks among other things. But it’s really exciting to get to work at a place that is properly in my own field like FIME is.

Due to the challenging coronavirus situation in Lebanon, most of the Institute’s staff are working from Finland, and so Mikko too has started his internship working remotely from his home office.

– It was disappointing that travelling to Beirut was delayed, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Now we just hope that the situation in Beirut improves and that I would get to spend at least some of the internship in Lebanon. Over the years, I have had the chance to spend some time in Jordan and Egypt, while Syria and Iraq are more familiar to me through work and study. Lebanon, however, would have been a new acquaintance in a lot of ways.

Published 5.2.2021.