George Cohan, 83, a UNLV lecturer, has traveled to 114 countries.Cohan
has collected many objects during his
travels, including Japanese woodblock prints that cover the walls of his
...George Cohan's collection
...George Cohan on India
...George Cohan on Kilimanjaro
To enter George Cohan's
Henderson home is to walk into another world.
Ask about any of them and Cohan
, with a smile, will share with you memories of a journey abroad.Maybe he
will tell you about that time he
spent 15 days riding across the Sahara on camelback, following Tuareg guides.Or about the time he
toured a movie studio on the outskirts of Pyongyang in North Korea.
The son of a globe-trotting mercenary, Cohan
father's wanderlust.Since World War II carried him overseas for the first time to Burma, China and India, the UNLV
lecturer has visited 114 countries on six continents.
"I'm not the type to just look at the museums," Cohan
says."I'm there to absorb the country, the feel of the place."He
wants to know what people elsewhere value: "What drives them, what motivates them, what things they consider precious."
At 83, Cohan
embodies the dream of lifelong learning promoted by UNLV's
division of educational outreach, where he
lectures on Asia and the Middle East.This week, he will lead a tour group to Vietnam for a private company that connects travelers with academics.
With decades of journeying behind him, Cohan
students with the same tales of adventure that have entertained friends and family for years.
An educator and explorer, he
is, above all else, a storyteller.
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"My father was a soldier of fortune in his
early years, and he
traveled the entire world," Cohan
says."I grew up under a man who had been everywhere."
recounts them, his
dad's voyages seem more the stuff of tall-tale fiction than of reality.His
father, Charles, seems larger than life.
Though the two became close friends later in life, Cohan
dad rarely spoke to each other when Cohan
was a boy.
"I was a puny little runt that he
was ashamed of, really," Cohan
mother's accounts of his
father's travels stoked Cohan's curiosity about the world.So as a man, he
embarked on an odyssey of his
own.The journey never ended.
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World War II rages in the Pacific.Cohan, a demolitions specialist in the Army Corps of Engineers, is walking through the jungles of Burma.
sits down on a log.
The log starts moving.
Looking down, Cohan
realizes the log is not a log at all, but a 15-foot python.He
leaps up, screaming, and runs for half a mile, his
accounts of his
journeys abroad, vivid and thrilling, emboldened his
children to travel as soon as they had time and money.
A retired advertising executive, he
has six kids.His
first wife died of cancer.His
second, who suffers from Alzheimer's, stays at an assisted-living facility in Southern California.He
lives alone with a cat.But in his
has found another audience eager to hear about his
talks with anecdotes about people he
encounters abroad guides or drivers, fellow customers at a cafe, says Terrie Bernard, 76, a longtime student going on this week's Vietnam trip.
An actor who has performed with theater groups, Cohan
stage skills to the classroom.
...And when it comes to lifelong education, Cohan is not only a teacher but a scholar, too.He
spends about a third of the year traveling, learning about other cultures, other ways of living.
And George Cohan's
spirit, will survive long after he
is gone.They will live on in his
loved ones' memories, through his
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A light rain falls outside.An orange cat sleeps on the table.Lamplight illuminates Japanese woodblock prints hanging on the walls of George Cohan's
living room.And the octogenarian, with a sparkle in his
eyes, leans back in his
is ready to tell his