Heart and Mind

We are all longing to go ‘back to normal’, meet up, go out again! We knów that this might be too early, but still... We may never have felt the struggle between ‘the heart and the mind’ as strong as we feel it now. Most of us are familiar with these moments of doubt in our lives, but this time it is more an ongoing unpleasant feeling. We know we might risk our own lives or those of others if we give in to the longing…

This emotion-ratio-struggle, and the way people respond to it, is the domain of creatives. Not surprisingly we see a lot very inspiring adjustments or even solutions to the COVID-19 situation coming from artists and other creative (marketing) minds. After a short period of confusion artists recuperated quickly and started to work virtually (online concerts, performances, exhibitions, artwork auctions, etc), creative marketing minds invented solutions like for example the ‘private dining in a two-person-greenhouse’ in Amsterdam.

The Embassy’s Culture and Communication Department had to be creative as well to respond to the new challenging situation. Suddenly the complete program of the Erasmus Huis, including the fully prepared 50th anniversary celebrations at the end of March, had to be cancelled. To keep up our cultural diplomacy work and to stay in contact with Indonesian and Dutch artists and our loyal audience, the innovative CC-team –all working from home!– set up the ‘e-rasmus huis’:  a complete online arts and culture program with concerts, performances and a family film festival (for the program, see here). Considering the number of online visitors, listening to an energizing concert together or watching a movie with the whole family is a welcome distraction. Especially in these days, when social contact is less. With this e-rasmus huis we have created a platform for Dutch artists to continue collaborating and performing together with their colleagues from Indonesia, now, but even after this COVID-time.

The focus of the work of  the Communication team changed almost overnight.  Immediately after the State Visit and the Trade Mission – while still working on the report of the tremendous media exposure of both events –  the team had to switch from press reports and analytics to informing Dutch travelers and expats about the COVID-19 situation and its consequences. The latter was (and is) not always easy, since a lot is uncertain. Sharing up-to-date messages on the situation is still one of the most important activities of the team. The recent information on stay permits and emergency visa that has been released by the Indonesian imigrasi is for example very important at the moment. We have already shared this on our social media channels, but if you haven’t seen it yet, please find the visuals with a clear explanation here. We will keep on informing you about the latest consular news via our website and online channels.

In both Indonesia and the Netherlands people are gently adjusting to the ‘new normal’. At the Dutch Embassy we, just like other organizations, are slowly getting used to the virtual way of working and digital diplomacy. Besides participating in a lot of video meetings and conferences, we arrange online concerts, films and performances (Cultural Department), engage in virtual dialogues with the government and civil society partners (Political Department) organize webinars (Economic Department), and even naturalization ceremonies (Consular Department). In this way our work continues as usual, although most of our colleagues still work from home. The embassy is fully functional and you can count on us!

Though the new way of working is fruitful and probably partly here to stay, it cannot be a complete replacement of live encounters or live events. I hope we will be able to welcome you again in the Erasmus Huis or at the Embassy as soon as possible. In the meantime: enjoy our e-rasmus huis, be with us virtually on our channels, balance your heart and mind, and stay safe and healthy!

Yolande Melsert,

Head of Culture & Communication / Director Erasmus Huis