Becoming a Whole Book Through Study Abroad: Dr. Christine Isom-Verhaaren

Saint Augustine once said: “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” By that standard, Dr. Christine Isom-Verhaaren–one of FHSS’s newest faculty members–is a tome. Her life’s book would read something like this:

  • Study abroad in Paris. Christine Isom-Verhaaren
    • Learn French while you’re at it.
  • Graduate from BYU in history.
  • Meet a man in a Dead Sea Scrolls institute class.
  • Fall in love with and marry that man.
  • Go with that man, who is an archaeologist, to Turkey.
  • Develop a rich understanding and appreciation for the country and the Ottoman empire. 
    • Learn Turkish while you’re at it.
  • Get a Master’s and a PhD from the University of Chicago studying the Ottoman empire.
  • When in Istanbul, while he studies what’s underground; you study what’s above ground.
  • Give such a good scholarly presentation that a publisher asks you to write a book for them.
    • Write said book.
  • Become a professor at the Jerusalem Center.
  • Go to Jerusalem.

While these steps may not be feasible for you to do at this point in your life, you can still take the advice of Dr. Isom-Verhaaren: study abroad. And remember: you can study abroad without doing a formal “study abroad”. “Visiting other areas of the world – particularly those you study – gives you a much richer understanding and appreciation of them.” Said Isom-Verhaaren. “My study abroad in Paris was the highlight of my education at BYU. I’d encourage anyone to do a study abroad.”

1203-57 0092.CR2 BYU Jerusalem Center exterior and Old Jerusalem March 12-23, 2012 Photography by Mark A. Philbrick Copyright BYU Photo 2012 All Rights Reserved (801)422-7322
BYU Jerusalem Center

Now an expert in the study of the Ottoman Empire, Dr. Isom-Verhaaren will be teaching BYU’s first specialized class on the subject. “When I was an undergraduate here at BYU, my professor David Montgomery introduced me to a whole world of interest for me,” says Isom-Verhaaren. “As a professor, you never know if you’ll do the same for a student.“ And she hopes to influence her students in a similar way.

“The students here at BYU are, in many ways, the future of the church – and the future of society,” said Dr. Christine-Isom-Verhaaren. “I’m excited and I feel privileged to help students develop the skills they need to be successful.”

Dr. Isom-Verhaaren has three children, two of which attended BYU. Her youngest recently returned from a mission. Her and her husband live in Provo, Utah.

Where have you traveled and how valuable was it for you?

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