Miami in Miami Final Reflection as Text
“Traveling leaves you speechless” by Kylee Andrade of FIU at Miami on December 11th 2022.
First photograph taken and edited by Professor John Bailly/CC by 4.0
Second photograph taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0
If I could summarize this entire experience into one phrase it would be “Traveling leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller” by Ibn Battuta. Truly, this experience was transformative as it completely changed my view of Miami and left me speechless to what Miami has to offer. Personally, I only saw Miami as a tourist location that only offered South Beach and nightclubs which truly underestimated the real and shocking value that the city of Miami holds. The beautiful art museums, multicultural restaurants, authentic places of worship, historical sites, and nature preserves all make Miami an extraordinary place to not only visit but learn from as the grand city provides a special narrative of its complicated history. Not only was each Miami in Miami class session impactful and emotional but the relationships that I made through each experience were truly priceless. Therefore, some of my favorite moments in the course included when we ventured into Overtown and when we hiked through Deering Estate.
Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.
Truly, Overtown was a culturally enriching experience as we got to learn the resilience of Miami’s once-segregated town filled with historical buildings, black owned-businesses, places of worship, and lots of yummy soul food! Nevertheless, the most impactful experience for me here was visiting the Greater Bethel Church which is one of the oldest black churches in Miami and entirely funded by the congregation. Knowing that I was walking through the same white church that Martin Luther King Jr, had once entered filled my heart with joy and excitement as I was walking through American history itself. This was the same church that Martin Luther King Jr had gave a speech about voter registration on 12 February 1958. Moreover, this had been my first experience entering the doors of a church since I was 10 years old which reminded me of the churches I would go to in Ecuador, as a toddler, as both churches carried the same architectural layout and religious artwork. Genuinely, the Greater Bethel Church had triggered childhood memories which made me feel extremely connected to the value the church had for black communities. Thus, learning that the congregation was displaced ever since I-95 split black neighborhoods evoked a crippling sense of despair and frustration since, as described by Walter (the individual who showed us the church), the church was no longer the same.
Photographs by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.
Lastly, one of my favorite memories throughout this entire semester in the course was having the opportunity to hike through Deering Estate. This experience not only solidified my relationships with my classmates, but it truly opened my eyes to the hidden treasures that Miami had to offer as Deering Estate carried around 8 ecosystems and nature preserves! We not only explored some of the ecosystems of mangroves, Rocklands, freshwater Springs, and Hardwood Hammocks that Deering Estate had to offer but we also got to witness fossil sites dating back to around 10,000 years ago! However, after struggling to move through Deering Estate’s mangroves and marshy waters, we found the site that was most astonishing to me which was the plane crash site. Even though this might not seem to be the most interesting site out of all the priceless sites Deering Estate had to offer, the plane crash site was just fascinating to me as hearing stories about the drug trafficking industry in Miami and the war on drugs during that era had been proven true through the testimony of the plane crash… I was walking through history again! How exciting! Moreover, my classmates found it super intriguing how some of the parts of the airplane had been intact even though the mangroves and water should have rusted it which indicates the great wealth that such drug traffickers must have had to invest so greatly in their cocaine or drug transportation services. Truly, I was shocked and extremely grateful of the opportunity this class had given me in the ability for me to not only witness history but physically touch it and feel it as I got to touch the airplane within my fingertips!
Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.
Overall, Miami in Miami was an unforgettable experience that can leave just about anyone speechless. Not only did I gain new friendships and experiences, but I was able to re-imagine what it is actually like to live in Miami. Miami is not just a vacation spot that has pretty buildings, rooftop restaurants, nightclubs, and beaches… it is so much more than that. Miami is priceless. It is a cultural melting pot in which individuals from different ethnic backgrounds bring their cultures, traditions, ideologies, art, music, food, and dance to celebrate their roots. It is a place where history exists through fossil sites, burial mounds, cottage houses, horse racing tracks, churches, synagogues, slave quarters, and archeological findings that are just simply fascinating. Truly, this course completely transformed my idea of learning to be something more than just memorizing dates and facts as it truly allowed me to not only see and read but touch, feel, smell, and experience the subject we are learning about. Because of this extraordinary teaching method, I will forever cherish Miami as a place with so much hidden beauty and historical value which should forever be protected and educated about. Thank you, professor Bailly, for an amazing class! Truly, the best in the field!