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Vanda Proskova

2020 Alumna
BA International Relations

When people say they’re volunteers, usually that means they’re helping a local non-profit, fundraising, or doing community service. When Vanda Proskova says she’s a volunteer, she means she is the Vice-Chair of PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security.

A 2020 International Relations Alumna, Vanda is also a nuclear disarmament activist and lobbyist and serves as Director of the Gender, Peace, and Security program of PNND (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament). We caught up with her just a couple of days after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons officially came into effect (January 22, 2021) to ask her a few questions. 

Where have you lived and where do you live now?
I’m Czech & I used to live in Prague, but now I’m based in Brussels.

Why did you choose AAU?
I was looking for an international school, and finding one so close to home was a jackpot!

What’s something valuable you learned outside of the classroom at AAU?
The importance of a meaningful intergenerational dialogue. I’m very much against the idea that everything that is old is wrong. Yes, there are way too many structures, institutions or establishments that do need a serious updating, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them, or their mistakes. Similarly, I believe that young professionals can learn so much from the already experienced voices in their fields. We can then use this newly gained knowledge in our endeavors to make this world more peaceful and sustainable. 

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Probably presenting at various UN events (like the high-level plenary meeting to commemorate & promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in October of 2020).

Vanda at the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons | October 2020

If you had the opportunity to give a TED talk, what would you speak about?
The legacy and importance of women in the field of security and peace building. There are so many great women the world doesn’t know but can learn so much from. For example, Bertha von Suttner’s thoughts now over 130(ish) years old are still so relevant, maybe even now more than ever! 

There is a reason why I chose Bertha von Suttner as an example. Bertha was born in Prague (to the famous Kinsky family), yet, Czechs tend to not know who she was. And that is a shame, there is so much everyone and anyone could learn from her! Not only was she the first woman Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Bertha herself inspired Alfred Nobel to set up the award in the first place. She was further instrumental at the Hague Peace Conferences, wrote this hugely influential book entitled Lay Down Your Arms, literally embodied feminism, and most importantly – was never afraid to speak her mind freely about things that mattered to her… I’m doing my best in following in her footsteps both in my personal and professional life (and promoting her legacy wherever I can). 

Knowing what you know now, what would you advise yourself when you were just graduating from AAU?
With the lockdowns and everything, it really feels like I have just graduated… but maybe… don’t stress, it’ll all work out in the end? And keep all your notes, they’ll come in handy one day!

If you could invent an app, what would it be and why?
Something that would allow humans to talk to their cats and to understand what they’re saying, I think that would make the world a better place.

Tell us something unique about yourself. A hobby, an accomplishment you’re proud of, a lesson learned.

I love running (and I do miss our AAU + Nike Prague running club!) But the most unique thing is probably that I’m a nuclear disarmament activist/lobbyist. For a young woman in the field of sustainable security, it can be hard to be taken seriously – so I am glad I’m slowly gaining recognition there. Oh, and a lesson learned: take the unpaid internship!