Conferee/Staff relations – how to love your Pels

It is important that Pels are part of our Beloved Community and can sometimes face unique challenges related to race. Just as we want to create an inclusive environment for conferees, we also must work within a safe community for Pels.

Just as you will remember meaningful interactions with our beloved Pels when you depart the island at the end of your conference, the Pelicans will remember you and your conference even after the season has ended.

Ensuring a positive working relationship between the Pelican community and conferee community will help both groups feel welcome to each other. Many Pelicans apply for the job because of their experience as conferees, many decide to spend their summer on Star because it offers them housing and economic stability, and some will set foot on Star Island for the first time on the day their contract begins. Regardless of prior Star Island experience, if a Pelican is treated as though they are a member of a larger beloved community, they will feel welcomed to come back.

Pelicans see the same people every day for the whole summer, which is why it is a refreshing gift to welcome a new conference every week. As Pelicans watch the different conferences throughout the summer, they get to see and engage with a variety of traditions. A common conversation between Pelicans is regarding which conference they would like to join when they continue on in their Star Island experience as a conferee. As conference leaders, you can be a model for how your conference will treat the staff on Star Island. Using inclusive language in conference communication, such as referring to Pelicans as being part of the “Star Island family,” will help to bridge the gap between the staff community and the conference community. Consider opening conference events to staff and actively inviting Pelicans to participate in programming and activities.

The Pelican community differs from any conference because of the unique arrangement that comes out of living and working in the same spaces. The Pelicans, especially in recent years, have put a lot of effort into fostering an intentional community that reduces interpersonal harm. The Pelican community prides itself on being open, accepting and affirming of all individuals’ identities. For some, this may be the first community to openly support their identity.

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