January 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Georgia: COS - India: University Education: Photography: Bedford Bulletin: Globetrotting professor Jerry Peverall returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia after serving in India in the 1960's

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Georgia: Peace Corps Georgia : The Peace Corps in Georgia: January 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Georgia: COS - India: University Education: Photography: Bedford Bulletin: Globetrotting professor Jerry Peverall returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia after serving in India in the 1960's

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Globetrotting professor Jerry Peverall returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia after serving in India in the 1960's

Globetrotting professor Jerry Peverall returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia after serving in India in the 1960's

Globetrotting professor Jerry Peverall returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia after serving in India in the 1960's

Globetrotting professor returns from Peace Corps stint in Georgia
By Rebecca Jackson

It wasn't our Georgia

Jerry Peverall is a perennial globetrotter, a renaissance man, no doubt as much at home astride a Bactrian camel as he is seated in the passenger cabin of a Europe-bound jet. Peverall's father, Pearl Harbor survivor Leonard Peverall, calls him a perpetual student. The bespectacled, bewhiskered professor, who's visiting Bedford for the winter months and retired from an education post in Anchorage, Alaska, is indeed no stranger to learning. Right now, during a hiatus when others might turn into video junkies and couch potatoes, the younger Peverall is studying Spanish as a student at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg.

Peverall has five college degrees, including master's degrees in Special Education and Early Childhood Education. His undergraduate academic credentials are varied, with degrees in psychology, industrial arts and studio art.

While in Alaska, Peverall served as rural coordinator for the National Senior Services Corps in Fairbanks and distance education and university liaison coordinator for the Lower Yukon School District.

From 2000 to 2001, until he embarked for the Republic of Georgia with the Peace Corps, Peverall created and exhibited his own art. He's also quite adept at photography, a skill he utilizes on his world travels. In 1987 and 1988, he was wood carving division champion in the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous.

Somewhere along his journey, Peverall also acquired certification in guidance and counseling, as well as emergency medical technician training.

He's the father of a 21-year-old daughter, who is studying public relations at the University of Michigan.

The list of countries Peverall has either traveled to, through, or lived in, is extensive, including Turkey, India, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, England, Israel, Greece, France, Italy and Germany.

From 2001 until just a couple of months ago, Peverall served his second stint in the Peace Corps, working as a teacher at the University of Kutasi/Gori (Stalin's hometown) in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

"The Peace Corps is open to people of any age, I knew one Peace Corps member who was 83 years old," and still sharing their talents, Peverall said. "It's wonderful. You learn a culture, you live with the people, it helps you learn another language, or get to experience part of another language."

Unlike his first sojourn abroad with the Peace Corps from 1969 to 1971, which took him to India, Peverall's assignment in Georgia was a cold one.

"The schools there have no heat. It's cold all of the time. At my university, the windows were broken. The students had no gloves. How can they learn under such conditions? I have so much admiration for them. We're so spoiled. I'm so appreciative, " Peverall, who slept beneath two sleeping bags in order to stay warm in the modest home of the host family he lived with.

"When you are serving with the Peace Corps, you live at the level of the host family," Peverall said. "I had $50 a month to live on," in Georgia.

Georgia, one of the most ancient countries in the world, straddles the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It occupies 69,700 square kilometers between the Black and Caspian seas (about the size of Ireland), with a population of 5.5 million people. The state language, Georgian, is over 2,000 years old, with its own alphabet, one of only 14 in the world. In addition to Georgian, most people speak Russian and increasing numbers speak English. The population has a 99 percent literacy rate and the highest percentage of college graduates in the former Soviet Union.

Although Georgia was annexed by Russia in 1801, Georgians never gave up the fight for independence. Georgia regained its sovereignty in 1918 and was an independent democracy until 1921. After 70 years of communist suppression, Georgia once again reclaimed its independence in 1991.

Christianity first took root in Georgia around AD 330. Georgians historically have had a reputation of tolerance for other people and religions. The capitol city boasts a Christian cathedral, a mosque and a synagogue all within walking distance of each other. A number of Jewish communities exist throughout the country and Islam also is widely practiced.

Georgian manufacturing business produce tea, wine, consumer goods, metallurgic products and milling machinery and equipment.

As a university professor, Peverall was expected to dress formally each day he went to class, always attired in dress slacks and a jacket and tie.

"There is a definite hierarchy," he said. "When you enter the room, the students stand up as a means of showing respect for their elders and authority. Students there are hungry for learning."

Georgians are said to among the most hospitable people on Earth, and the "Supra", or large parties held for every occasion from birthdays to wakes, attest to this. They believe that guests come from God. Friendship is highly prized as a virtue.

Georgian life remains rooted in the Bacchic tradition, in which reverence for the grape influences everything from Christian iconography to the oral traditions embedded in toast-making. Toasting is not taken lightly. In addition to time-honored forms are time-honored subjects to which hosts and guests will drink, including peace, to the reason for the gathering, to the hostess, to the parents and ancestors, to the motherland, to friends, to the memory of people who have died, to life, to children, in honor of women, to each guest present, sometimes individually, sometimes combined.

"They drink alot," Peverall said. "Georgia is very well known for its wine."

The Bedford native calls this area home, but given his history of seeking adventure, he probably won't here to roost for long.

Take, for instance, the fact that there is a big demand for instructors of English as a second language in China, according to Peverall.

"I just got back from six weeks in China, traveling from Peking to Shanghai," Peverall said. "I was impressed by the Chinese work ethic and their level of production. We'd better watch out."

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Bedford Bulletin

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Georgia; COS - India; University Education; Photography



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