Lea Plantek, Communication Specialist, United Nations FAO

  • 1 Jul 2019 11:49 AM
Lea Plantek, Communication Specialist, United Nations FAO
Lea has worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations since early 2015, today she is a specialist in the area of UN liaison and communications.

Her duties include the weekly development and dissemination of FAO news for all of Europe and Central Asia. She researches and writes stories and guides teams of writers from countries throughout the region in sharing news and information about FAO’s work to reduce hunger and improve food security.

Plantek earned a master’s degree in international relations from Andrássy University Budapest in 2011. During her studies, she was the winner of both the Walter Hallstein Scholarship and the Robert Schuman Scholarship, through which she worked as a trainee with the European Parliament.

Plantek speaks three languages – Hungarian, German and English – and has a strong interest in international affairs.

1. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Pécs, a southern Hungarian city that was the European Capital of Culture in 2010, with the concept of being a gate to neighbouring countries that formerly were part of Yugoslavia.

As a child, the only thing I perceived from the great location of Pécs was that the Croatian coastline was close enough that we could always spend our holidays there instead of at Lake Balaton.

2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Most probably I would go to south-southeast Asia.

I’m so fond of their food: It’s fresh, a riot of flavours! Also, a lush mountainous jungle view always fascinates me and gives a certain otherworldly calmness.

Mother Nature must have been in an “abundant” mood when creating these lands.

3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
Many things, and that’s the reason why I’m still here. Our unique language and sarcastic humour, all the sweet and savoury food with cottage cheese (“túró”), springtime moments, but most of all the people I feel close to.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
Depends on the season. The spas and cafes to protect you from the cold, outdoor walks and the nice city vibe on a terrace when temperatures get warmer.

A walk along the Danube is always a good idea, any time of the day and the year. I’m a big market-lover, and I think that going to any of the pop-up farmers’ markets should be at the top of every traveller’s list.

5. What is your favourite food?
Creamy, saucy food, preferably with vegetables – like cream soups. We are a soupy nation anyway, as some foreign colleagues once told me.

6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
Running is my main sport, and Budapest offers plenty of different routes.

Be it just a 5km lap on Margaret Island or somewhere uphill on the Buda side or at Normafa, running always gives you the kick. There are several run clubs open for everyone to join, too.

7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
Since my life is taking roots in Veszprém now, I’m discovering the beauty of this city and region. Here, you are just 20 minutes away from Lake Balaton with its beaches and gastronomic opportunities, or driving up north you can hike and even ski in winter. Should you fancy culture beyond what’s here, in an hour you are already in Budapest.

Speaking of culture, Veszprém and the Balaton region will be Europe’s capital of culture in 2023. There are plenty of great things to expect.

8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I’m very happy with what I’m doing now. Still, if I had the chance, I would spend more time in nature, perhaps even on a professional note.

9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
Anything that’s monotonous and repetitive and done in a windowless room.

10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
I have been travelling extensively recently and have gone on a few duty travels to the Caucasus and even farther to Central Asia.

Although our schedule there was quite demanding, spending time with rural families in their homes was the ultimate way to experience those beautiful countries. In between, we went to Rome to enjoy the Italian dolce vita for a couple days.

11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
We always joke about being constantly on holiday in Veszprém, as this is the area where many Hungarians spend their vacation.

Still, sometimes we make weekend escapes to explore other European cities to watch horse show jumping competitions, as we did in Rome. Horse show jumping has been a lifelong passion for my partner, not only watching events but also training and competing himself. I have enjoyed being able to share in that passion.

12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I liked, and still like, French cinema, especially the movies of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He can create parallel worlds – a mixture of reality and fiction – that offer nice daydreaming moments for a teen.

13. Apart of temptation what can’t you resist?
Good food and dark chocolate. And my mother’s cherry pie.

14. Red wine or white?
Coming from the neighbourhood of the Villány and Szekszárd wine regions… red!

If it’s available, I like the “siller” (schiller) wine especially, something halfway between red and rosé, typical to Szekszárd. Worth trying!

15. Book or movie?
Both. There are exemplary pieces from both produced by contemporary Hungarian artists.

16. Morning person or night person?
Morning, but not too early morning.

17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Since I’m working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the issues of sustainability, inclusive development, and good and nutritious food for everyone are high on my agenda. It is very pleasing to see improvements in these areas achieved through our projects.

18. Buda or Pest side?
I have been living on the Pest side for more than 10 years, and not just by coincidence. Nevertheless, more and more I appreciate the green and hilly areas of the other side.

19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
I have a life that is, by my own standards, worth living. But so many good things and great moments are still to come, so it is in constant development!

20. What would you say is your personal motto? 
At relevant moments, I try not to forget Édith Piaf’s words “Je ne regrette rien” (I do not regret anything), to avoid thinking too much about the past or start ruminating on current or future things.

Photo copyright: Karen Minasyan / FAO

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