Important Update & Changes to our Annual Conference
With heavy hearts we write to inform you that after careful deliberation and surveying presenters, we have made the difficult decision to go online with our 2021 annual conference this year. Plans are already underway to work with local organizations to meet in Washington face-to-face in 2022. We will also announce the 2023 conference location during this year’s online business meeting.
The Delta variant and the rise in hospitalizations for COVID, the concerns that parents or other caregivers have for people with complications and / or who cannot be vaccinated, coupled with the increasing restrictions universities and other organizations are placing against travel, are making it increasingly challenging for everyone. Above all, HSA is looking out for the safety and wellbeing of its members.
The Delta variant and the recent catastrophes in Haiti mean that seeking visas to travel to the U.S. are next to impossible. Based on members’ urging H.S.A. to decolonize our practice and ensure access for our colleagues in Haiti, the prospect of having an important meeting in Washington with minimal presence from people in Haiti also loomed large in the board’s painful decision.
Since Haiti is still recovering from one disaster after another, ensuring access for an online conference is at the forefront of our planning. We are in dialogue with several options for physical spaces in Haiti with high-speed, reliable internet, and we will let everyone know as soon as plans are finalized.
Committing to decolonizing Haitian studies also means having multilingual spaces and linguistic access. Several of our Zoom events this past year have included live audio translation. We are planning to make as many live translations as possible for this year’s online conference. We are therefore maintaining the current level of membership and registration posted on our website to defray the cost of allowing our Haitian colleagues to join the 2021 online conference. We are also exploring offering some refreshments at the Haiti sites.
Members who made reservations with the hotel are advised to please contact them for cancellation of their rooms. The hotel is working with us and will accommodate you without penalty.
We realize that whatever decision we would make would not be everyone’s preference, which is understandable. But know that we made every effort to listen to our members. Many members had reached out to express their concerns about safety. We also know and very much appreciate that many others reached out just to express their support no matter the final decision. Know that we appreciate all your messages and communications. We count on your continued goodwill as we carry on with meaningful discussions about Haiti and how to make our interdisciplinary work serve the greater good to improve conditions for Haiti’s people. We are still planning an advocacy day this year, so please stay tuned.
And thank you all for your work. It is times like these that show us the importance of our scholarly community and our vital scholarship in creating different narratives and new futures for the world’s first beacon of freedom.
With great respect and humility,
Mark Schuller, president
Regine O. Jackson, vice president and program chair
Claudine Michel, executive director