5 questions with…study abroad adviser, competitive Scrabble player Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown CWRUHaving visited “more countries than [she] can count on [her] fingers and toes,” Lisa Brown just may be one of the most well-traveled people on Case Western Reserve’s campus. And that’s incredibly important, considering her job. Brown serves as the study abroad adviser in the Center for International Affairs, working with students to find an international experience that best suits their needs.

This experience could range from a semester or full year overseas to a short-term study abroad program, such as the new Spring II session, in which students register as part of spring semester but don’t actually travel until May, after final exams end. (Coincidentally, the deadline to apply for all spring break and spring II study abroad programs is today.)

“I’ve always loved learning, and traveling allows you to learn with all five senses,” Brown said. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping college students see the world.”

For Brown, her passion for international travel began with her own study abroad experience as an undergraduate student. A Japanese major in college, she traveled to Japan, where she ended up living for two and a half years—an experience that changed her life.

“Before moving to Japan, I had a very black-and-white perspective of the world, and living among another culture totally changed my perspective,” she said. “It made me a more mature, empathetic and introspective person.”

It also opened her up to learning more about other cultures—including their languages. The self-professed “serial language dabbler” speaks and/or reads Japanese, French and Spanish and has taken classes in Chinese, Arabic and Amharic.

Brown also is a master of the English language—as a tournament Scrabble player. She competed in 23 tournaments last year and is the fourth-ranked female in Ohio.

From travel to Scrabble, there are many reasons Brown stands out as an interesting individual. Read her answers to The Daily’s five questions to find out more.

1. What are you reading—and how are you reading it (print vs. digital)?
I always read seven books at a time so that I can switch between topics and languages. Right now I’m reading:

  • Herzog by Saul Bellow
  • “Boule de Suif” et “Mademoiselle Fifi” by Guy de Maupassant
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • GO by Kazuki Kaneshiro
  • Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
  • La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Arrowsmith is on my Kindle; everything else is in print.

2. What can’t you live without?
I discovered about a year ago that I couldn’t live without a certain kind-hearted Ethiopian geologist, so I married him in October. I love you, Yonathan!

3. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I love the Allen Memorial Medical Library. The antique medical instruments are delightfully creepy, and the gorgeous wood interior makes me feel like I’ve traveled back in time. I could spend hours there.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I suppose it’s not exactly advice, but I’ve always loved the quote “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” It’s true. The women who inspire me—Empress Taytu of Ethiopia, Wangari Maathai, St. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, Rosa Parks, Eve Ensler, Marjane Satrapi—they’re all firecrackers. It’s good to be a firecracker. Firecrackers make history.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
At risk of sounding hokey and trite, it’s absolutely the students. I’ve worked at four other universities, and while I’ve loved them all, I’ve found CWRU students overall to be the most generous, respectful, brilliant and interesting. The best part of my job is sitting down and talking to students about the world.