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Jiří Brodský is perhaps one of AAU’s most notable alumni as of today. After graduating from studying Political Science and Sociology at AAU (then AAC) in 1999, he continued to get his masters at LSE in European Studies to then return to Prague to be the Deputy Director for the Foreign Affairs Department under President Klaus.
In 2013, he started his first post as the Czech Ambassador to Denmark, and just last year his post was changed to Mongolia. You can keep up with his diplomatic missions and get some insight on Mongolia via his very active twitter account.
Jiří with the President of Mongolia
What was your very first job?
My first real job was during my studies at the Anglo-American University. To pay my tuition fees I worked for Esquire and Speed magazines and translated articles from English for their (then new) Czech editions.
Something unique about yourself (hobbies or personal achievements)?
I have always liked individual sports (tennis, roller-blading, swimming, skiing or fitness). In recent years I discovered angling, the sport thanks to which I learned to relax. Both countries of my posting so far have been friendly to this hobby, so I am fortunate.
Why did you choose to study at AAU?
For Master’s degree, I wished to enroll at a prestigious British university and I considered AAU Bachelor’s degree the best prerequisite for that. Thanks to my academic results at AAU I gained admission to the London School of Economics and Political Science, received a scholarship and succeeded there.
What is one thing a teacher taught to you that you took to heart the most?
Generally speaking, AAU cultivates critical thinking; it teaches its students to debate, knowing the facts, to be decisive, to prioritize etc. If I was to mention one name, it would be Keith Crawford who inspired me to apply for the London School of Economics. His political science classes are remembered by many alumni.
What triggered your interest in international affairs and relations?
A conversation with my grandfather, when I was 16 years old, and we were discussing for which profession I could aspire.
What was the biggest turning point in your life?
It was when I met my wife Hana. I had a principle not to date anyone in the same business. When I worked for President Klaus, however, I often accompanied him on his trips, and perhaps most frequently to Italy. Hana worked in Rome as Czech Deputy Ambassador, and love prevailed over principles.
How are the Czech Republic’s diplomatic missions with Denmark and Mongolia similar? And different?
They are similar in everyday managerial work, in running the embassy, making sure the embassy staff works well together, fulfilling the tasks assigned by the headquarters. Both missions are identical in that they promote Czech interests and the goodwill of the Czech Republic abroad. The difference is geopolitical. Mongolia experienced the era of communism, it used to be a Soviet satellite and a priority partner country for the then Czechoslovakia. As a result, despite the geographical distance, it is very close to us. Its ministers, governors, mayors, business people are very accessible. Most of them visited our country, have detailed knowledge of it and count us among friends.
When you arrive in a new country, what do you think are the most important or interesting things to engage with first?
I think it is vital to read a lot about the country in advance and to have some knowledge of the local language certainly helps (at least elementary one). The next most important thing is to engage with local people, get to know their customs, their lifestyle and mentality, to understand how things work in the country and why. In Mongolia, certain humbleness and respect to nature is a must too.
What do you think the Czechs can learn from Mongolian culture? And vice-versa?
In my view, we could learn not to regulate all aspects of our lives, minimize the role of government. It is really refreshing to be looking at Europe through the Asian specs in this respect.
What could Mongolians learn from us? I think they could be more mindful of each other, for example when driving.
Have you or do you plan on going riding with mogul horsemen?
I have tried riding a horse several times and I must self-critically say that I am not good at it. I love horses, though, and the best experience of last year was a visit to the Czech National Stud in Kladruby.