Currently pursuing a Psychology major with a minor in Biology. I have an interest in art and travel and I hope to combine these two passions throughout my study abroad experience.
“Food for thought” by Nashya Linares of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
The great mansion of Vizcaya holds beautiful rooms inspired by all the European trends of the 20th century. Every corner of the palace is accompanied by lavish ornamentations that speak of James Deering’s obsession with grandeur and luxury. As you walk through, the not so subtle cultural influences that make up some of these adornments can be easily dismissed and forgotten. I myself wouldn’t have noticed the Islamic styled fountains and geometric patterns along the door frames of the east loggia without a reminder. All these tidbits of multicultural influences were appropriated, and no one seems to know or recall their true origins.
But is James Deering at fault? If this is asked without context then many may agree that he abused his wealth and power to take what he wanted without needing to explain himself. But how would one avoid appropriation if new cultures form from the amalgam of others? As it is the case in Miami. How do you ask a culture for permission to take their language, art, or way of living to be placed in a new world, and more specifically, the new world? Vizcaya serves as a reminder for those paying attention that we are a result of a complicated history, one always forgotten but never not present in our everyday lives. In nature life always finds a way to grow regardless of the circumstances around. I like to think that cultures behave in the same way, growing and spreading without care of who takes part and where it takes place.
“Double-Sided Dream” by Nashya Linares of FIU at The Freedom Tower
Going to the Freedom Tower of Miami-Dade’s Museum of Art and Design District was a specially interesting experience because I did not know, and still don’t know, what to make of it. I’ve seen the building from afar many times, but I’ve never really explored it and going inside was a very important reminder of the complicated nature of immigrating to the U.S. I moved to Miami when I was eleven years old from Colombia, and one of the things I get asked the most is “do you like it here better?” I don’t always know what to make of that. Yes, there’s a reason my family chose to move to the U.S and I do love living here, but also no because I was old enough to feel the pain that comes with leaving behind your friends, family, and your culture, especially when it isn’t you making that decision.
It often seems that outsiders, although not willingly, try to paint a pretty picture of coming to the U.S as a second chance at life or as a gift. I was reminded of that ignorance as I read the poem written by Edwin Markham on the New World Mural, 1513, found inside the Freedom Tower. I almost laughed because it reminded me of a time when someone had asked me that question, “do you like living here better,” and for the first time I answered no. I noticed the subtle, but obvious confusion in their eyes that I recognize as them expecting me to say that living in the US is obviously better than my home country. I was not offended by that instance; it was just a reminder of how many people tend to overlook the other side of what being an immigrant is like.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think I have a better life here, but it all came with a cost. This is why I can’t seem to view the freedom tower in a completely positive light or as a symbol of freedom. However, I also can’t say that it doesn’t inspire hope in me. At the end of the day, however complicated, the freedom tower still represents those in Miami that gave up everything in the search for something better.
“Undisturbed Miami” By Nashya Linares of FIU About the Deering Estate Walking Tour
Located in South Miami Dade County, The Deering Estate holds valuable historical information about the beginnings of the land that we now call Miami. Recently archeologists have found evidence of humans who lived in the Deering Estate land about 10,000 years ago. More specifically, The Tequesta Burial Mound holds the remains of the ancient civilization of the Tequesta. This finding is highly significant to the understanding of Miami’s origin story. The exploration did not stop there, as excavations of the cutler fossil site, also at The Deering Estate, revealed boned from dire wolfs, mastodons, and saber-toothed tigers, dating back to the Pleistocene era.
Although Miami is a very green city with palm trees on every corner everywhere, it often hard to find a quiet place where you can truly enjoy Miami’s natural fauna. I was lucky enough to visit the Cutler Fossil Site around this time last year for our last class field trip and I truly enjoyed seeing an uninhabited Miami. Completely away from the hectic Miami noise, I explored an area that not many get to enter and to this day I remember feeling serenity. Having that opportunity makes me appreciate the efforts put forth by The Deering Estate to preserve these archeological sites that provide a gateway into seeing an enchanted Miami. Additionally, this institution serves as an exemplar of how other establishments should conserve land that is essential to promote educational efforts and learning; to be preserved for future generations to come.
“The Complicated History of Miami” By Nashya Linares of FIU About South Miami Beach
Walking through Ocean Drive on a Saturday morning while admiring the art deco and the sky-blue beaches, one often dismisses the history behind this great city. South Miami Beach has been alive and diverse ever since the beginning of the twentieth century. According to Marvin Dunn, before Miami was developed by Carl Fisher it was just a small town, but active nonetheless with the community engaging in picnics and baseball games. Moreover, it was also a diverse town, and it was only after Carl Fisher began developing that blacks were banned and forced out of their city. This cruelty, sadly, is what set the stage for the buildings we have grown to love in South Miami.
Besides the dark origins of a developed Miami, years later many have come to appreciate the beauty of the iconic buildings that most people imagine when they hear South Miami Beach. These buildings were not always appreciated by everyone, and not many people know that there was a lot of effort in maintaining the buildings that make this strip of land so unique and loved. In 1977 the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) was founded by Barbara Baer Capitman and Leonard Horowitz to conserve the historic buildings of south beach. In the 70s, when there were many efforts to demolish buildings, Capitman took a stand and protested to preserve the art deco in South Beach. Thanks to the MDPL and the bravery of Capitman and Horowitz South Beach would not be what it is today.
The story of Capitman fighting to preserve art deco in South Beach stood out to me because it now gives me a female role model that I can point to when I think of South Miami Beach. As a woman of color fighting for a cause with not many backing her, Capitman demonstrates the spirit that is seen by many strong colored women in Miami. A woman that stood against the norm, making her a human embodiment of South Miami beach.
“A Miami United” By Nashya Linares of FIU About the History of Miami Museum
The History of Miami Museum offers visitors a great opportunity to explore Miami in a different light than just admiring Miami’s beautiful scenery. As someone who lives in Miami and has never visited the museum, reading about it has given me a lot more insight and has motivated me to visit it whenever possible. One of the things that caught my attention the most was the relationship built between the first pioneers of Miami and natives that had lived on the land for years. As mentioned, because South Florida was isolated and pioneers were new to the land they got helped from natives, who helped them crop starch for example.
This alliance formed between new settlers and natives reminds me of the way immigrants families tend to help each other out, especially when one had just arrived at Miami and need help adjusting to a new culture and environment. Helping neighbors has been essential to the history of Miami and that instinct has not changed. I was fortunate enough to have friends who welcomed my family to Miami and introduced us to a new way of life. This cooperation is also seen between institutions in Miami, such as the way many of the tools used by natives of Miami that were excavated by archeologists at The Deering Estate are now on display at the History of Miami Museum. Friendly neighbors are just another great attribute of Miami, one that is accurately displayed at the Museum.