Vanda was born and raised in the Czech Republic, and considers herself “Czech through and through.” Despite this inherent connection to her birth country, Vanda fell in love with international travel, cultural exchange, and the idea of living abroad from an early age.
Vanda credits her family with instilling her with a love for travel from an early age. Her parents were raised in Czechoslovakia during the Communist regime and their own mobility was severely restricted as kids. Vanda recalls her parents sharing stories of their first international trips from Czechoslovakia to Yugoslavia as teenagers. Once they had the ability to travel more extensively, they prioritized instilling appreciation for adventure, cultural exchange, and travel in their own children.
Being surrounded by different traditions and perspectives, Vanda knew early on that she wanted to find a career in which she could continue interacting with multiple cultures, nationalities, languages and worldviews.
Growing up, Vanda and her family traveled throughout the United States, Thailand, and India to name a few places. She loves the thrill of experiencing new cultures, languages or lands, and considers those trips her fondest memories: from rushing to an ER after getting bit by a monkey in Thailand or getting lost in the streets of Dubai to trying her first real naan in New Delhi.
Out of all foreign countries Vanda has visited so far, she feels most at home in the United States. There, she spent many summers working, traveling, or visiting her extended family based in New England. In addition to learning about other cultures abroad, Vanda’s family often hosted foreigners and she attended international schools throughout her adolescence. Being surrounded by different traditions and perspectives, Vanda knew early on that she wanted to find a career in which she could continue interacting with multiple cultures, nationalities, languages, and worldviews.
Vanda obtained a BA in International Relations from Anglo-American University, Prague–one of two international universities in the Czech Republic. Currently, Vanda is pursuing an LLM in International Law, focusing on International Conflict and Security at Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), University of Kent. Outside the classroom, Vanda is President of the Graduate Student Union.
One of Vanda’s role models is Bertha von Suttner, author of Lay Down Your Arms and the first woman Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She cites von Suttner as her inspiration to pursue international law and learn how to use law as a tool for peaceful conflict resolution. As a young woman with innovative ideas and approaches, it can be challenging to make a name for oneself or gain respect from senior colleagues.
As a young woman with innovative ideas and approaches, it can be challenging to make a name for oneself or gain respect from senior colleagues.
Professionally, Vanda has already made a name for herself in the field of Sustainable Security. Her undergraduate career included a semester abroad in Australia, where her coursework focused on counterterrorism and global security. That semester changed her perspective on multilateral humanitarian will. When she returned to Europe, she stumbled upon an NGO called Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). In 2018, she began as an intern before being promoted to Coordinator of the Czech Republic and eventually the Director of the PNND Program on Gender, Peace, and Security, which she helped establish.
Vanda hopes that the people who meet her remember her as someone “who tries – someone who does her part in making the world a better and more peaceful place, even if it takes a long time.”
Despite these early accomplishments, Vanda admits the work can feel discouraging or stagnant at times–there is often indifference or even resistance to changing the status quo, and the inner-workings of diplomacy are complex. As a young woman with innovative ideas and approaches, it can be challenging to make a name for oneself or gain respect from senior colleagues.
Still, Vanda continues to forge a path for herself within the field. Though her work has diverged a bit from von Suttner’s, she remains inspired by von Suttner’s work and ability to navigate adversity as a female professional. In addition to her work with PNND, she now serves as the Vice-Chair of PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security, whose mission is advocating politics that provide the best conditions for fostering global peace and human security.
Her work has also led her to presenting at the United Nations. In 2019, she joined a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York, presenting a new campaign calling for nuclear divestment. The “Move the Nuclear Weapons Money” campaign aims to raise awareness about the social justice issues that governments could fund if they diverted nuclear weapons spending. Another UN appearance took place in October 2020, at the UN High Level Plenary Meeting on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Vanda was one of two civil society representatives from around the globe invited to participate by the President of the UN General Assembly.
Not one to boast about her achievements, Vanda hopes that the people who meet her remember her as someone “who tries – someone who does her part in making the world a better and more peaceful place, even if it takes a long time.” While Vanda is still figuring out her long term career goals, she has quickly become an important member of the Humanity in Action team. Not long after beginning as a Project Assistant, she assumed the role of Communications Consultant. Learning about Senior Fellows’ work has made Vanda hopeful about where the world is headed, especially in contrast to the topics and case studies her current coursework covers.
One day, she’d love to experience living in New York City. Until then, you can find Vanda exploring and settling into her current home base of Brussels, which is finally opening up for the first time since she moved there during the height of the pandemic.