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Lucie Němcová

2017 Alumna
MA International Relations and Diplomacy

Introducing Lucie; a truly global citizen but a Czech passport holder with razor sharp policy and analytical skills that have taken her to the transnational political arena of European Parliament in Brussels to the Deputy Mayor’s Office in Prague as she focuses her specialization and Ph.D. research on the bureaucratic autonomy of local government. Why?

“I thought studying international politics and conflict sounded glamorous, but in the end when you’re working on something that you see happening before you which you can actually change, it fills me more. Seeing local government policies that I advise on and watching them be implemented is more satisfying than something I can’t change… Everyone can make a difference. There are ideas, good ideas, but MEPs [Members of European Parliament] debating on the future for their country usually don’t implement change immediately. When there are hundreds of people walking through the hallway, you want to be somewhere else where you can make a difference.”

Let’s back up a bit… Did you grow up in Prague?
No, I moved around with my parents to London, Brussels, and Moscow. My father was a correspondent for the Czech Radio, so that probably influenced me to follow up on the international path. Although I guess now on the local path.

How was living in Brussels when you worked there?
Very lively, like a melting pot for international people, but only from Monday through Thursday night. Everyone usually leaves for the weekend to their home country. Most of the people I worked with even stayed at hotels. During the weekend it was very calm, not grey and rainy like everyone believes. But I also had a university life, so I was surrounded by people from all over the world.

After living abroad, how do you feel connected to Czech society?
When I hear a lot of Czech people who grew up here, I sometimes don’t get what they’re saying. For example, it’s common knowledge that many Czechs hate Russians. I could never really understand why that is. Of course, I know rationally why that is because of the occupation in the past, but it doesn’t make sense to me to ignore a Russian person today as some form of discrimination because of Stalin… We even have a name for Russians, ‘rusatci’. Whenever I hear that I think to myself, ‘Why? What is happening? That was ages ago’. Most Russians I’ve met, I’ve had a wonderful experience with since living in Moscow for four years. As what you’d call a ‘culture kid’, I don’t understand these national sentiments.

Do you plan to stay in Prague?
Totally. I decided that I’m going to stay here but if I leave and work in the same department anywhere else in the world, I wouldn’t have the contacts and experience like I do in Prague already.

Personally, I’m really interested in urbanism, particularly in Prague. Are you faced with many urban issues at work?
Yes- for example having more accessibility of bicycles in Prague. We want to be more like other European cities but this isn’t happening any time soon. For example, the city center isn’t made for bike sharing or segways. The neighborhoods often complain. And now, for instance, people are upset that everyone is out on the streets because of the indoor smoking bans. It takes time for Czech people to adjust to change.

And is there any talk of regulating tourism?
There is actually. At the Prague City Hall where I am working, political parties have been debating the regulation of Airbnb and incoming tourists/foreigners. Although in my opinion, there’s nothing to worry about. The Czech Republic isn’t suffering in any way from this issue. Yet, it’s a good thing to address this on the program with Czech voters.

What was your first impression at AAU?
I used to be a very nervous and shy kid. At orientation I didn’t know who to talk to or know how to communicate with strangers, until somebody next to me started talking to me with a simple, ‘Hi. How are you?’. I then understood that was the way of communicating- to be open to new experiences. I actually made a few friends that day and we’ve been friends throughout our studies.

Do you have any influential professors at AAU?
Pelin [Pelin Ayan Musil, Ph.D.]. She turned me towards the Political Science path. I really liked the methodology. I ended up doing my BA and MA thesis with her.

What was your BA thesis topic about?
Belarus and their democratization (while I was still into that international politics).

And your MA thesis?
Bureaucratic autonomy. Similar to my PhD, it was specifically about the comparison between the Czech Republic and Germany.

How do you see the future of the EU?
I believe people are always going to be interested in their close neighborhood. First and foremost, they are going to solve problems that are present in their city. Then, in the pub they’re going to talk about what the prime minister and President did. These are still going to be figures of the nation state. I can’t predict the future, but I don’t think the global decentralization and countries exiting the EU will happen so fast.

If you have a free afternoon, what do you do?
(She laughs) I’m at home… I love to be at home because I don’t usually have a free afternoon. But I love making dinner with friends at home as well.

If you could, what class would you teach at AAU?
I was actually thinking about that recently. I’d love to teach something from Political Science, maybe local government. But that probably doesn’t exist as a class currently. To be honest, it’s not really an attractive course to take when you’re younger and just starting university. But I’d love to one day, maybe in 3 years’ time… we’ll see!