Jennifer Rodriguez: Miami as Text 2023

Jennifer Rodriguez is a sophomore at FIU majoring in Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Education. She was born in Miami to a Colombian mother and a Cuban-Americn father. She dreams of being able to teach valuable skills to children in underserved communities and handicapped children. Her favorite hobbies are cooking, puzzling, and reading.

Miami Encounter as Text

“My Miami” By Jennifer Rodriguez of FIU

All pictures were taken and edited by Jennifer Rodriguez/ CC by 4.0

This is my initial perception of Miami and how I interacted with it. I am a Miamian, born and raised. However, I never really “knew” Miami the way I know about it now thanks to this class. When I was little I lived in North Miami Beach, then I moved to Hialeah and still live there today. Miami is all I’ve known since I was born; yet, I only came to realize the true Miami last semester.

Before this class, Miami, to me, was just a tourist city that I just happened to live in. I knew about these amazing places “every tourist must see when you are out here” and I thought about how cool it would be to go to those places, even though they were max one hour away from my home. I never thought about Miami as my home, my home was the hialeah community and nothing more. But even this neighborhood was shown to me in a new light thanks to this class.

All pictures were taken and edited by Jennifer Rodriguez/ CC by 4.0

Thanks to this class, last semester I was able to learn about the good, the bad, and the dirty details of the county of Miami-Dade. I understood how this city was built by Bahamian and African Americans but were then erased from history and segregated to other cities because they weren’t worthy of staying in the very city they built. I also learned about the beautiful unique natural environment south Florida has and how our human greed has left most of It in ruins. I love the amount of knowledge I have acquired by taking this class and it only seemed obvious to take a second semester full of new experiences and information about the city I have lived in for all nineteen years of my life.

What I am most excited for is the Everglades trip as well as the Chicken Key Beach Clean up. These two activities are nature focused and I want to learn more about the beautiful world that surrounds me and how I can do my part to preserve and protect it from people who take advantage of its awesomeness.

Everglades as Text

“Not a Swamp” by Jennifer Rodriguez of FIU at Everglades National Park

The Florida everglades was always just a big swamp in my head whenever I thought about it. My sister had gone there many times for school field trips but I had never gone before. when someone would ask me what I thought about the everglades I would just say swamp and alligators cause thats all I thought it was. After this trip I now how wrong I was with that statement.

The Everglades is anything but a swamp and not long ago, alligators were an endangered animal. So how could I be so wrong about a place that makes up over 50% of south Florida and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Honestly, I chalk it up to my unwillingness to venture out and try new things. One of the main reasons I took this class was to expose myself to these amazing experiences and I am so glad I was able to do it.

Like I mentioned before, the everglades is no swamp, it is a beautiful environment with multiple kinds of ecosystems. We were able to see the pine rocklands and wet hike through a dome where we listened to an alligator bellow. here experiences are only possible when you venture out and choose to explore the world beyond what you see or hear from travel sites or Instagram posts. The only way to find out that the “swamp” isn’t an actual swamp is to go out there and see for yourself. I never in a million years believed I would wet hike through the same waters as an alligators or touch green algae that probably looked like green dung from far away.

I have seen first hand that you cannot talk about a place you have never been to because it just would not be doing the place justice. Now I can confidently talk about the amazing park that covers the entire southern most area of Florida and encourage people to go out there, because it most definitely is not just some swamp.

Coconut Grove as Text

“Love Carries On” By Jennifer Rodriguez of FIU in Coconut Grove.

Coconut Grove is filled with so much history. So many stories that came together in one community and as we did our lecture walk one story stood out in particular above all the rest: The Barnacle. A house that got its name because it could withstand to largest hurricane of that time without budging, much like a barnacle on a boat would. But what intrigued me most was the family that built and lived in this house. It was built by Ralph Middleton Munroe in 1891 after he moved down here to help his first wife that was suffering from tuberculosis. He then married again and had two children that were raised in this house. The family continued to grow as the children became parents and the generations extended into the present where there are still living dependents of the original couple that built this house for their growing family. Munroe loved his family and even found a way to completely lift the original floor of the house to then build a new floor to make it large enough to fit his family.

All pictures were taken and edited by Jennifer Rodriguez /CC by 4.0

I love this story because it is a story of love and compassion. Munroe moved here in hopes of his wife serving the illness but died later that year and even through this he persevered and eventually found someone he could love again. This time he was able to have two children to love and raise. Munroe’s love didn’t stop at his family either, he had a sailing club and invited people of all backgrounds to participate. He was not a man who harbored prejudices or resentment towards the people he new built the city. His love for his family carried on for generations.

All pictures were taken and edited by Jennifer Rodriguez/ CC by 4.0

When we toured the house I saw a recipe book that had been written all the way back in the 1900s; and to see it in such good conditions after being passed down for so many generations, it was incredible. I have always wanted something like that for my family in the future. I want something tangible to be able to show my future grandchildren as a culmination of their family’s heritage and all the love that goes into making something for someone. The fact that this family was able to keep something so important to their family history so intact proved to me how much love there was in that family.

All pictures were take and edited by Jennifer Rodriguez/ CC by 4.0

This tour allowed me to see a beautiful story, among many in Miami’s history, and it reminded me that before all the prejudice there was just love for one another. I appreciate stories like these because I see how our world could still be like that if we could just set aside differences and remember we are all one people working together to survive in this world. I believe love can transcend all, back then, now, and in the future.

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