June 2, 2017
Doctor Peter Gabor joined us after the school year had already begun. Most of his students are aware that he attended MIT and Princeton but they may not know of his intriguing interests, such as klettersteiging and canyoneering, or that he teaches debutantes how to curtsy. The Ms. Print wanted to get insight on his life to better understand a valuable part of our SMA staff.
Where did you grow up?
Mostly in Portland Oregon after we had moved here from Alexandria Louisiana.
How did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
I haven’t been a teacher for my whole life but I knew that I could teach well, so when someone wants to learn I know how to impart information in them pretty quickly. So while I was at graduate school I got a teaching certificate at Princeton University while I was there and fortunately it was in New Jersey where they don’t have an expiration date on them so I could transfer the certificate to whereever I wanted to go. Then, seven years ago, I was living in Europe and I wanted to come back to the US and I wanted to have an excuse to come back to the US, so I figured, oh, I’d just find a teaching position, I’ve been doing that for the past seven years.
How did you end up teaching at St. Mary’s?
I had been teaching at Thomas Jefferson high school in Virginia. I taught there for six years. I left to, I had stashed my car in Mongolia, and I needed to remove it over the course of the summer otherwise the Mongolian government would claim it as its own. And so by the time I got back to America, I drove it up through Siberia. By the time I got back here the school year had started so I’d actually wanted to be in this area because my mom was here and my dad passed away a year and a half ago. And so I was here and looking around for a position and right at the time I ran the St. George marathon in Utah, St. Mary’s posted an ad and I saw it and I replied and wound up here, so it was quite the circuitous route.
What do you like to do with your spare time?
I like to go canyoneering. Zion state park in Utah is probably the best state park in all of the US, even better than the Grand Canyon and any we have around here. And these canyons that are really tall, like 1000 feet tall, but they’re narrow. So when you’re down there they call it “doing the narrows”. In some places they’re so narrow you can put out your hands and touch rock wall with both hands so you can go down to these things and they are really fun. You can go to some of these overnight. And make sure you’re not going when it’s raining because they can get these flash floods and the water goes up higher than this roof. So if you’re in there, you’re dead but so you check the weather forecast and some of them you do overnight some you do for just one day and it’s fun so that’s something I like to do. I like to go klettersteiging is a sport they don’t have in the US. It exists in Europe, in Austria and Italy and France and Switzerland. When you go rock climbing you normally need a partner: one to hold the rope so that if you accidentally fall you won’t go crashing to the ground. Well klettersteiging is self protection in away you have a harness on and you have a short little leash and there are carabiners on the end and they’ve built iron cable which they’ve nailed into the side of the cliff or whereever you happen to be. You clip your carabiner in there so you can walk up or climb and that’s what klettersteiging is. It might sound a little corny but it’s actually tremendously fun. I like to go mountain climbing, so, for example, I’ve skied off the top of mount hood and that was a lot of fun.
What’s one of your favorite movies?
There are a lot of movies that come to mind, one of which is “My Cousin Vinnie.” That’s a classic. Lately I’ve been watching “The warehouse” it’s not a movie it’s a tv series, sort of fun. The Star Trek series, I’m not a Trekie but I definitely enjoyed Star Trek voyager.
What kind of music do you like?
It depends. To listen to I like soft rock and country but I like to ballroom dance, I left that out of things I like to do, and for that I like music that you can partner dance to like waltzes, foxtrot, chacha, rumba, tango.
What’s is an interesting fact about you?
I’m on the organizing committee of the international debutante ball which takes place every other year in New York City, between Christmas and New Years. That’s an affair that’s one of the premier social balls in America and it’s a debutante ball which is when young women were ready to be introduced to society they’d be called debutantes. They’d go to this ball and there you’d be presented and that meant they’re eligible for dating and just generally going to parties and being present to society. And this is really old fashioned but there are still some balls around where they practice this custom. So the national debutan they have about, oh, ball park, depends on the year, 40-70 debs come out. In Europe it takes another form. So there the balls are much bigger. Here it’s much more of a coming out. They get together, get announced, they walk down the floor, they go up onto the stage, turn around, and get announced officially and then they go back down. What I do is I show them how to curtsy, that’s one of my big roles there because I’m a dancer so I know how to move. You’d think, “well why doesn’t a woman teach them that.” Well because I know how to do it and I know how to show it.