Laurel Ridge students and staff share their diverse cultures over two days of Go Global events

For Immediate Release:
November 19, 2021

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Dania Benitez El Salvador Go Global
Dania Benitez was representing her parents’ homeland of El Salvador at Go Global: Faces & Foods Around the World Thursday on the Middletown Campus.

The various cultures and histories of our students were shared and celebrated this week as part of Laurel Ridge’s Go Global events.

Laurel Ridge has hosted global awareness days for many years, but the popular celebration was completely online last year due to the pandemic. On Wednesday, the Fauquier Campus hosted “Go Global:  A Taste of Diversity,” with food and information shared from South Korea, Venezuela and Bangladesh, as well as a presentation by Professor Jerome “Butch” Austin on the conflict in Myanmar.

On Thursday, the Middletown Campus held “Go Global:  Faces & Foods Around the World,” with information, along with some food, from various countries, including China, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Holland, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Numerous flags were displayed on both campuses.

“It’s great to be able to bring this very important, very cherished event back to campus this year,” said Chris Lambert, coordinator of student life and engagement. “Even though we are very much still mid-pandemic, we made this work. Hosting this event at both our Fauquier and Middletown campuses as part of a two-day event was not only safe, but a great way to bring our diverse community together in celebrating our differences as one college.”

Jaehee Lee, a fine arts student, shared Korean cookies and created an exhibit on South Korea, focusing on K-pop, architecture, traditional clothing, drama and the Korean alphabet.

“I wanted to introduce more about Korea,” she said.

Dania Benitez’s parents are from El Salvador, and she had a display on the Central American nation.

“I wanted to represent my culture and show it to other people, like our tourist spots, what food we have,” she said. “I’m representing my parents’ country from my perspective.”

Dr. Soyoung Burke, Laurel Ridge’s ESL program coordinator, was at both Go Global events, sharing Korean food.

“These types of events are very important,” she said. “Our college’s mission includes diversity, and this is at the core of that.”

Israt Jahan was serving a rice dish from her native Bangladesh.

“I am here because I wanted to experience cultures from around the world.”

Professor Austin shared videos, images and information surrounding the conflict going on in Myanmar following a brief period of democratic experimentation. His wife is from the Asian country.

“I wanted to make people aware of what is going on,” Professor Austin explained. “There are things the U.S. can do to help. Awareness is the very first thing.”

He also wants students to not take their freedoms for granted.

Professor Austin’s biology student, Sierra Miller, was one of the students who signed up to find out how they can help support the Myanmar people’s struggle for freedom.

“I joined the military in 2005 – I was 17 – and if there’s one thing I hate it, it’s a dictatorship,” she said. “I was a drill instructor in the Marine Corps. If I can help anybody in another country fight a dictator, I will.”

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s Go Global events at


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.