Maria Mercedes Corredor: Miami as Text 2023

Encounter as text

“Different Type Of Planning”

By Maria Mercedes Corredor of FIU – January 2023

For me, planning a trip is half the fun. I do research on the sites and the people I may find. I look up good restaurants and things to do that will scratch the nerdy itch to know everything. However, this trip to Italy is different. Everything has already been planned by the professor and faculty. But that does not mean that I cannot have fun with planning, it just means that the planning will look different for me. Instead to looking for places to visit and planning tours, I get to comfortably sit back and read books and watch movies about what I will see in Italy. It is awesome!  

Before going into the first official class for Italia study abroad, I was already excited! After the class I was what come after excitement. When I think of Italy, I think mostly about the people I know from there. My best friend in high school came from Italy and traveled to Milan and Rome a lot. She aways came back with stories that fascinated me. We became so obsessed with the country that we forced our parents to enroll us in Italian classes. We would also sit in her room and listen to Italian opera (cannot say why but it made sense at the time). My friend, her name is Laura, used to tell me about the places she would visit with her family and the food she would eat (I am extremely excited about the food); but mostly she talked about how everything had a history. How she walked the streets of Rome, and her dad (a historian) would tell her who walked those same streets hundreds of years before. I cannot believe that now it is me who will make those walks! When I think about Italy I inevitable think of Laura and I recall how it felt, being 6-7 years old, hearing her stories and wishing I could go there. It is almost 20 years later, but I am doing it! 

Mostly, what I expect from the program is to be able to immerse myself in Italian culture. To practice the language and learn a lot of new stuff! The place I am most interested in visiting is Pompeii because of its uniqueness. I know truly little about their story, but I do know that when Mount Vesuvius exploded, the whole city was buried in lava and hence preserved like it was for the rest of time. That is amazing. I am sure that seeing the people that died there will be very emotional and shocking. However, I am also excited to see the way they lived all those years ago. The houses and brick roads. And learn more about the history of Pompeii.  

In preparation for our trip, I am reading the books assigned and doing my own research on questions that come to mind like: “Was Pompeii Magnus named after Pompeii the city? Or was it the other way around?”  (Turns out they have nothing to do with each other). The planning for this trip is nothing like any of the planning I have done before. But it is because of its uniqueness that I am enjoying it so much.  

Ancient Rome As Text

“Am I american Or Roman?”

By Maria Mercedes Corredor of FIU – February 2023

As an immigrant, I struggle to find my place in this society. I have realized that I cannot do that without first reflecting on who I am and who I want to become. The only way I know how to do that is to look back in history and ask myself: where do I come from? For me that question has several answers. My dad is half Colombian and half Dominican, but he was born and raised in Venezuela and considers himself criollo (Venezuelan term for people that grew up in small town or close to the beach). My mom is 100% Venezuelan and a specific type of Venezuelan. Both her parents are from cities close to the Andes Mountains in west Venezuela. They speak, dress, and eat differently. But it is necessary to note that my maternal grandfater grew up in Mexico and my materal grandmother was raised in London. What a mess right? I, on the other hand, was born in Caracas, raised on a dairy farm in the mountains and now I live in Miami, and I am currently wondering: “My blood is already a misture of nationalities, and, now am I also Roman?”

My whole life has been a melting pot of cultures and I love it. But that did make it a little bit difficult to define my identity. During my time in Venezuela, (I lived there since I born until 22 years old) I studied my country’s history. In school I learned that in the 1800’s Venezuela fought an independence war with Spain and won. I spent all my childhood learning our shared history with the Iberic peninsula and how the story of my country is intricately linked to the story of Spain. I was also lucky to learn details from my grandparent’s culture since I spent a lot of time with them, and I have even had the opportunity to travel to Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico. I also used to spend summers in “Los Andes”, my maternal grandparents’ land and got to experience first had their culture and how I fit in it. I always considered myself American. But by I do not mean that I considered myself from the US. I do not think the term “American” is a good term to refer to people that are ONLY from the United States. America is a big continent that goes from Alaska to Patagonia and sometimes people forget that. I am American because I have blood from so many countries in America, not because of a US passport. So, by the time I turned 20 I thought I had myself pretty figured out. Who I was and most importantly, who I wanted to be.  

However, that drastically changed when I moved to the US. Here, in Miami, I found myself very confused. Speaking another language and trying to fit into society without losing my roots and identity proved to be an exceedingly challenging task that I am still trying to manage. Nonetheless, history has once more proven useful to me. After arriving to the United States, I made it my mission to learn as much as I could from its history, after all; this is my new home. Recently I found out that everywhere in US history there are odes to Italy and specially Rome. The way the founding fathers are portrayed in paintings and sculptures is the same as Roman Emperors. Tall and powerful on the back of a horse. Our form of government, the division of powers and a Senate were first born in Rome! The way we design our important buildings like the Supreme Court and the Capitol, also Roman!

Simon Bolivar, Washington DC. By Felix De Weldon. Picture by: Wikipedia

I have also done research on the other countries that form my identity, and they too have similarities with Ancient Rome. The coat of arms of The Great Colombia (a country that used to include the territory that today is Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama) has roman fasces in them. All these countries also have Congress and Senate and sculptures of leaders on horseback saluting their people. There is a statue of Simon Bolivar (the Liberator of South America) portrayed exactly like a Roman Emperor and it stands in Central Park, New York City and I found another one in Washington D.C.!

I have noticed details like this everywhere and it is extremely interesting to me how all these cultures are intricately linked. I want to keep studying Ancient Rome so I can get closer to the culture that had such an enormous influence in the Western world. I want to understand their purpose and hopefully get closer to mine. 

Moreover, watching the HBO Rome show and reading “Julius Caesar” by Shakespeare introduced me to a whole new world of Ancient Roman culture. Since I have always been fascinated with history, I had already watched this show on my own a while ago. Watching it for the second time made it easier for me to notice more details and pay attention to things I had overlooked the first time around. Like the complicated social structure in which some slaves had better social standing than other slaves and could even earn money and buy land. How Romans had propaganda like: “True Roman bread for True Romans.” How open their sexuality was and how easy it was for nobles to get divorced and remarried. The close relationship citizens felt to their Republic is also something I notice in both U.S. and Venezuela (sure it looks different but it is the same concept). In conclusion, I will continue to study Roman culture so I can keep looking for similarities of culture between them and America (The continent of America). And hopefully keep defining who I am and how I fit into this world.  

Author: mcorr128

Maria Mercedes is a 25 year old biology student. Her dream is to go to med-school. She moved to Miami in 2019 but she was born and raised in Venezuela, that is the place she feels most at home in. She likes to paint and spend time with her dog. And she loves to study! Any new information that you give her she will be happy to hear it and make it her own.

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