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By Eric Weld    Date: 12/18/08

Chase House

How Do You Say "Happy Holidays?"

It started with a single, simple holiday greeting.

“Merry Christmas,” wrote Monika Valecic ’12 in her native Croatian on the white board in the Chase House dining room before lunch on Saturday, Dec. 6.

  Monika Valecic
Monika Valecic '12

Before long, her cheerful yuletide message had turned into three dozen artistic holiday renderings in languages from around the world.

After Valecic scribbled her message, other students followed with their own until the whiteboard, which is typically used for posting the day’s menus, became crowded with holiday cheers. Finally, Tina Atkinson, a cook in the Chase kitchen, started handing students colored markers and sheets of paper, suggesting they make their messages into holiday posters. She printed out a masthead for the display saying “Holidays Around the World.”

Now, an array of colorful posters with holiday wishes lines the aluminum hood above the Chase ovens, stretching across the expanse of the kitchen.

“Feliz Navidad,” says one in Spanish. “Mele Malakahiki,” greets another in Hawaiian. "Sretni praznici," as it's pronounced in Croatian. Arabic. Turkish. Japanese. Korean.

Chase Staff  
Chase staffer Kathy Martins (left), shown with Gina Bendinelli (center) and Gina Hicks, encouraged students to create and hang the posters.  

“Everyone was so cheerful about this,” said Kathy Martins, dining room coordinator in Chase, who encouraged the kitchen collage. “Everybody kept coming in with pieces of paper they had drawn these greetings on. All day long they kept grabbing markers and paper. It turned into something like Miracle on 42nd St.

Valecic, who works as a dishwasher in the Chase kitchen, was delighted to see her simple greeting blossom into a smorgasbord of holiday wishes from students around the world.

“I wrote the first message because I like to be able to show something from my culture,” said Valecic, who attended the United World College in Italy before coming to Smith. “The spirit of diversity and cultural variety was always stressed and we were proud of our differences at United World College. The same spirit is stressed here. People in Chase kitchen always encourage diversity.”

The proof is in the diverse display of holiday greetings on the hood over the ovens in Chase kitchen.

Happy holidays.



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