Meet the Team


Yara Vrolijks

Executive Director

Yara is the founding mother of the MIND conference and as the Executive Director she is responsible for the content of the program and the speakers. She was born in the Netherlands and is currently studying at University College Utrecht. She founded and chaired the student Committee MindfulCo with the belief that the most excellent student is the one who is content and happy as a human being. As an instructor of meditation and compassion sessions for fellow students and a board member of the Charter for Compassion NL, she wants to translate and communicate the traditional concept of compassion in a way that is practical and inspiring. We need more kindness in today’s world, ultimately that is the practice of compassion. May the MIND conference be an inspiration for many and may the warmth of compassion spread and touch everyone’s hearts.



Carla Ott

Internal Affairs Manager

Carla from Germany is in her 2nd year at the Amsterdam University College. Among her many interests she is following Psychology and Philosophy classes. After graduating from high school she deepened her interest in Buddhism by studying a classical text on great compassion at the Rigpa Shedra College for Buddhist studies in Nepal. She regularly attends Buddhist teachings and practices meditation and compassion daily. This makes her an enthusiastic meditation instructor as well as a projective chair of the ZEN committee at AUC – a student initiative aiming to make students more relaxed, happier and healthier through yoga, meditation and other activities. For her compassion is to see others as equal to oneself, which inspires care, respect and a spontaneous readiness to help. She is excited to make the MIND Conference an inspiring, life-changing day for everybody.



Bianca Banu

Public Relation Manager

Bianca, the PR manager of the MIND Conference team, is a student at Amsterdam University College, majoring in Communication and Film. She is from Romania and after finishing high school she moved to Amsterdam to continue her studies. She is very passionate about photography and her dream is to visit all the countries in the world. She is up to date with what is happening in social media and she is very active within online communities. She has been working as a volunteer since she was 14 years old in different contexts. From being part of the PR team in a student organisation, to helping and teaching children with mental deficiencies, volunteering has been an important part of her life. Through the MIND Conference she hopes that people will understand better the importance of compassion in our everyday lives.



Sabina Sofia Bahisheva

Event Manager

Sabina, the event manager of the MIND Conference, partakes in planning and coordinating the event so that it runs smoothly. Currently a student at the Amsterdam University College, Sabina has developed a deep interest in journalism and psychology. She likes to focus her writing on healthy living for both the body and the mind. For her compassion is being aware of one’s feelings, showing kindness and willingness to help others. She saw great potential in the MIND conference and joined it to make sure that its message will be heard by as many people as possible. She hopes that the MIND conference will be remembered as a great event worthy of attending.



Lia den Daas


Lia is the treasurer of the MIND conference team. With an organized mindset, she makes sure all the numbers match up. Lia is half Dutch, half American and grew up in the Netherlands. After one year of studying at Middlebury College in the United States, she decided to come back to Holland. Since 2013 she has been studying at Amsterdam University College, where she focuses on physics on philosophy. Here she co-founded AUC’s science committee, Curiosity. The committee organizes events to promote the fun side of science, while also creating opportunity to speak about science in relation to philosophy and society. In addition to her love for learning, she understands the importance of a balanced life. Mediation, yoga, and more recently qigong help her achieve a peaceful mind. Compassion is an integral part of this process. To understand the world around you is to understand and accept others, bringing people together. This is her hope for the MIND conference: to connect people in compassion.


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Vera Vrijmoeth

Fundraising Manager

Vera is a down to earth, positive and creative 2nd year student of Utrecht University College. Studying sustainable development, sociology, philosophy and art history gives Vera the opportunity to actively study and impact the world positively. Her experience at a year of study at ATLAS university college before UCU taught her the importance of taking responsibility, trusting others and seeing and appreciating the talent of each person. As a treasurer of the student committee MindfulCo she actively supports and improves student well-being on the UCU Campus. In her free time she loves to spend time outdoors wall climbing with friends and on art for the preparatory year of the HKU Art Academy. In her position of fundraising manager of the MIND Conference she wants to bring the professional aspect to the conference. Her conviction: compassion has many sides and can turn out to be incredibly valuable to functioning in one’s private and professional life!


Xinyi Tong

Fundraising Manager

Xinyi studies economics and mathematics at Utrecht University College. She is curious, energetic and positive. As one of the board members of UCworld, the student-led NGO focused on development, she organized different guest lectures as well as volunteering events. Through this, UCU students connected with Utrecht citizens and were able to offer support to those in need. Due the pressure students experience to achieve academic and social goals, mindfulness helps finding the inner peace that is needed in order to truly enjoy the things we are doing. Xinyi believes that being empathetic and compassionate is one of the most important things when it comes to living a happy and successful life.

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