Maria Bracamonte is a junior majoring in Business Administration in Finance with a minor in Business Analytics at the Florida International University. She aspires to develop her expertise in the field to combat the scarcity of financial knowledge and advises others to make smart monetary decisions. However, her long-term career goal is to build a company that allows her to give back to the community and offer growth opportunities to minorities in this country. She values academic excellence, community services, and involvement. She has completed more than two hundred hours of services in her community and has participated in and led multiple organizations. She is an active member of the Phoenician Investment Fund, and she is also part of the Honors College Program at FIU. She is passionate about arts, with more than ten years of experience in performing arts: dance and theater. Likewise, she has great admiration for photography, cinema, music, literature, and painting.
Miami Encounter as Text
“Second Home” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU on January 29, 2023.
When I first moved to Miami three years ago, I was unsure of what to expect, and I was afraid of how much my life was about to change. I visited Miami a couple of times before permanently moving here, but I did not know every single part of Miami. I knew about the beautiful beaches, the warm weather, and the diversity, but I was not sure if it would feel like home. I was not familiar with its history or culture, and in terms of the image that Miami conjures in my mind, it was a vibrant and bustling city with a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic architecture. Some of the parts of Miami that I was most familiar with include South Beach, Little Havana, and the Miami Design District.
However, learning about this city was essential to me for a variety of reasons. First, it will allow me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the place I will now call home. This understanding can come in the form of knowledge about the history, culture, and current events of the city. By learning about the origins and evolution of the city, I can gain a sense of identity and pride in the community. Furthermore, learning about one’s city can also lead to a greater sense of civic engagement and responsibility. When individuals have a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing their community, they are more likely to take an active role in addressing them. Therefore, being part of the Miami in Miami class was the perfect opportunity to fulfill this goal.
Thanks to my involvement in this class, I discovered that Miami is a city rich in history, dating back to the early thousands of years with indigenous tribes and the 1800s when American and European pioneers first settled it and build the city with the labor of Caribbeans. Miami’s culture is heavily influenced by its large population of immigrants, particularly those from Latin America and the Caribbean. This has led to the development of a unique blend of cultures and traditions, which can be seen in the city’s food, music, and art. The city is also a popular tourist destination, known for its beaches, nightlife, and attractions such as the Everglades and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
From its early days as a small village to its present-day status as a major metropolis, Miami has undergone many changes and played a significant role in shaping the culture and identity of South Florida. As someone interested in exploring the city’s history, and as for my expectations of class this semester, I hope to keep learning more about the people, places, and events that have shaped Miami over the years.
One of the things that I am particularly interested in is discovering the lesser-known places and landmarks that have had a significant impact on the city. While Miami is home to many famous landmarks such as South Beach and Little Havana, many hidden gems are often overlooked. For example, the historic Overtown neighborhood was once a thriving African American community and home to many prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement. I believe that by exploring these lesser-known places and learning about the stories of the people who have lived and worked there, I can gain a deeper understanding of Miami’s history and appreciate the city in a new way.
In conclusion, Miami has become a second home for me, and it has allowed me to grow and find a sense of belonging that I did not have before. I have become a part of the community, and I have developed a deep appreciation for the culture and traditions of Miami. I cannot wait to see what other places are out there to be discovered in this vibrant and exciting city.
Everglades as Text
“Discovering the Everglades: A Transformative Journey” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at The Everglades on January 18, 2023.
Before visiting the Everglades, my understanding of the area was limited to its reputation as a unique and important wetland ecosystem in the United States. I knew that it was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which meant that it was recognized as an exceptional example of an ecosystem that was worth preserving for future generations. I had a basic understanding of the Everglades as a vast and diverse area that included a mix of freshwater and saltwater habitats, as well as a rich array of plant and animal species.
However, my understanding of the Everglades changed significantly after visiting the area. During the visit, I was struck by the size and complexity of the ecosystem, which extends from Lake Okeechobee in the north to Florida Bay in the south. I was also struck by the diversity of habitats and species that are found in the Everglades, from the lush sawgrass marshes to the mangrove forests and pine rocklands.
One of the most interesting things I learned about the Everglades was the unique hydrology of the area, which is driven by the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee through the region. This flow of water supports a wide range of plant and animal communities, including the wading birds that are so characteristic of the Everglades. I was also impressed by the role that the Everglades plays in supporting the ecology of South Florida, as well as the important role it plays in recharging the Biscayne Aquifer, which provides fresh water to the region.
Despite the importance of the Everglades, I learned that the area has been under threat from a variety of human activities. These activities have disrupted the natural flow of water in the region, causing harm to the ecosystem and threatening the survival of many plant and animal species. However, I was also encouraged by the efforts of local communities and organizations to protect and restore the Everglades. These efforts include the creation of protected areas, such as Everglades National Park, as well as the restoration of critical habitats, such as the mangrove forests and pine rocklands.
My visit to the Everglades provided a transformative experience, one where I was able to disconnect from the bustling chaos of daily life and reconnect with the stillness of nature. The still waters of the slough mirrored the essence of our own being, as I came to understand that like the water, we too can be disturbed by the turbulence of life, but when in a state of calm, we can attain a sense of clarity and peace. This realization emphasized the importance of preserving these precious environments, for they offer not only an escape from the outside world, but also a chance for personal renewal. I left the Everglades with a newfound appreciation for the transformative power of nature and a commitment to preserving its beauty for future generations.
In conclusion, my visit to the Everglades was a transformative experience that helped me to understand the importance of this unique and fragile ecosystem. While there are still many challenges to overcome in protecting and restoring the Everglades, I was inspired by the efforts of those working to protect this exceptional and important area. I believe that by continuing to educate the public and support conservation efforts, we can ensure that the Everglades remains a vital and thriving ecosystem for generations to come.
Coconut Grove as Text
“Exploring the Oldest City” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Coconut Grove on February 12, 2023.
Before my visit to Coconut Grove, my idea of this neighborhood was that it was a rich and upscale area that attracted the wealthy and famous. I imagined it to be a place filled with expensive shops, luxurious homes, and a vibrant nightlife. However, after visiting Coconut Grove, my understanding of the neighborhood changed dramatically. I was surprised to learn that about its rich history that dates back to the 1800s. It was once a separate city and is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhoods of Miami.
The neighborhood was once a small fishing village and was home to working-class Bahamian immigrants that became financially stable and gave back to the community. I was also impressed by the cultural institutions in Coconut Grove, such as the Coconut Grove Playhouse, which has a rich history of hosting performances by local and national artists. The neighborhood is also home to the Plymouth Congregational Church, which was build by one man and it serves as a gathering place for residents.
Likewise, another thing that surprised me during our visit was the diversity of the architecture in the neighborhood, which includes a mix of historic and modern buildings. It is a sorrowful truth that the original community of Coconut Grove has been displaced and that modern buildings are being erected in the neighborhood, erasing its rich history and cultural heritage. As I walked through the streets of Coconut Grove, I was struck by the contrast between the old and the new. The historic homes, schools, and churches that were once the center of the community’s cultural and artistic life were now surrounded by gigantic mansions and modern buildings.
It is unfortunate that the history of Coconut Grove is being erased and that its rich cultural heritage is being lost. The displacement of the original community and the construction of modern buildings reflects the changing times and the pressure of urbanization. The once small fishing village has now become a bustling city, and the original residents have been replaced by a new generation of residents who are more interested in the convenience and comfort of modern living than in preserving the area’s history and cultural heritage.
As I reflect on it, I was moved by the thought that future generations may never know the rich history of Coconut Grove or the contributions of its original residents. The Bahamian Cemetery, where many of the neighborhood’s early Bahamian settlers are buried, was a poignant reminder of the community’s history, but the cemetery is now surrounded by modern buildings and the once peaceful environment has been disrupted by the sounds of traffic and construction.
It is important that we take steps to preserve the history of Coconut Grove and to ensure that future generations will be able to learn about the community’s rich cultural heritage. This can be done by supporting the preservation of historic sites, such as The Barnacle and the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and by promoting the appreciation of the area’s cultural heritage through education and public programs.
In conclusion, my visit to Coconut Grove changed my understanding of the neighborhood in many ways. I came away from my visit to Coconut Grove with a newfound appreciation for the neighborhood. Coconut Grove is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world. The area is known for its natural beauty, charming architecture, and unique cultural experiences, but it is also a neighborhood that is rich in history and cultural diversity. I am saddened by the loss of its rich history and cultural heritage, but I am also hopeful that the community’s legacy will not be forgotten. Overall, my visit to Coconut Grove was a truly enriching experience, Coconut Grove is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Miami.
Coral Gables as Text
“Coral Gables: A Vision of Utopia and its Social Cost” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Coral Gables on February 26, 2023.
Coral Gables, which was meant to be “The City Beautiful,” is a breathtaking city that was built on the ambitious vision of George Merrick. As he shared his vision in his speech, he expresses that “we are not only viewing a big city, but a great city, one truly great! Such a city is balanced. Such a city is of proportion. Such balance, and such proportion as are so satisfying as one looks at some of these old ancient colonial homes of New England, proper balance, proper proportion.” Therefore, Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables was undoubtedly ambitious, as evidenced by the city’s striking architectural features and unique urban planning.
The city’s neighborhoods, built in a park-like setting, reflected Merrick’s desire to create an idealistic atmosphere where residents could enjoy the beauty of nature and their surroundings. Likewise, the Spanish style that was used to build many of the city’s buildings and homes gave it a dreamlike appearance. His vision led to the creation of a stunning city with a unique mix of commercial and residential zoning, striking architectural features, and beautiful parks.
He fulfilled its vision of the city, as its neighborhoods clearly reflect the utopian atmosphere of this city, and its outstanding architectural buildings in the Mediterranean Revival style, make it seem like a dream city. However, there was an excessive cost that is usually overlooked. As we look back at the history of Coral Gables, it is essential to recognize the social cost that was paid for its construction. Many of the workers who built this beautiful city were immigrants from the Bahamas and African Americans who were subjected to unjust and inhumane working conditions. They were forced to endure racism and discrimination, as Merrick also proposed to forcefully displace Black families and individuals from Miami, guided by his racist nature.
George Merrick wanted to create a city that was not only large but also great, one that was balanced and of proportion. A utopia came true. However, he did not hesitate of wanting to get rid of those who built the city once his project was completed, leaving them without a chance to enjoy the beautiful city. The abuse these individuals had to endure during these tough times is inexplicable and unjustifiable, but it is even more outrageous to know that there was still not enough recognition for these individuals.
It is essential to remember the injustices that occurred during the construction of Coral Gables and to honor the memory of those who were mistreated. The history of Coral Gables is incomplete without acknowledging the efforts of the immigrants from the Bahamas and African Americans who worked tirelessly to build the city. The arduous work of these individuals significantly impacted the growth and development of Miami-Dade County, and it is incumbent upon us to recognize their contributions. As we reflect on the past, it is crucial to honor the roles of these individuals and acknowledge the injustices that occurred. It is through recognizing and learning from our past that we can build a more just future for all.
Norton as Text
“The Intersection of Art, History, and Beliefs” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Norton Museum of Art on March 19, 2023.
As humans, we possess an innate desire to connect with something greater than ourselves. It is this yearning that drives us to seek out purpose, and to never lose sight of the extraordinary power that lies within us to connect, to create, and to inspire. Hence, art is a powerful medium that has the ability to capture the essence of life and preserve it for future generations. During my visit to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, I was struck by the incredible power of art to capture life and avoid death, as well as inspire belief and shape our understanding of our own history.
Throughout history, artists have used their talents to create works that immortalize people, places, and events of their time. Likewise, art has been used to reflect the events and experiences of the time in which it was created. The Norton Museum of Art is home to many paintings that offer a glimpse into the historical and cultural context of their creation. Among these works are several paintings of the Virgin Mary, which offer a fascinating insight into the role of religion and belief throughout history and allowed me to reflect on the way in which religion and belief have impacted and shaped our society.
However, as I looked around the museum, I notice that many of the visitors seemed to be more interested in non-religious art. I believe that part of the reason why many people today are turning away from traditional religion is because they are seeking new forms of meaning and purpose in their lives. As science and technology have advanced, we have gained a new understanding of the universe and our place in it. And as we have become more aware of the diversity of human cultures and experiences, we have come to appreciate the rich variety of beliefs and traditions that exist in the world.
For some, this has led to a renewed interest in spirituality and mysticism. For others, it has led to a fascination with science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of imaginative storytelling, as they seek to explore new worlds and possibilities. But no matter what form it takes, I accept as true that beliefs will always be a part of the human experience. Whether we are inspired by the great religious traditions of the past or by new visions of the future, we will always seek to find meaning and purpose in our lives, and to connect with something greater than ourselves.
And so, as I left the museum and returned to the busy streets of Miami, I felt grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed so many works of art that capture the beauty and complexity of human life. And I felt optimistic that, even as our society changes and evolves, we will always find ways to express our deepest beliefs and longings through the power of creativity and imagination. My visit to the Norton Museum of Art was an inspiring reminder of the incredible power of art to shape our understanding of the world and inspire belief. Whether it’s through religious art or modern installations, art has the ability to transport us to new heights of inspiration and creativity.