Je Suis Charlie by Danna Samhan

Tomb of Bernard Verlhac at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. (Photo by Danna Samhan CC by 4.0) 

Je Suis Charlie 
By Danna Samhan, FIU Honors College
July 2016

Here Lies Bernard Verlhac at the age of 57, known under the name of Tignous. Father of four, career oriented, published author. Titled by the Worldwide Wildlife Foundation as “A Friend of the pandas and the Earth.” A member of Cartoonists for Peace. Loved by many, hated by many. He is buried here today as a symbol of the French people, killed for using his voice – for sparking and provoking thought that made others uncomfortable. He had the artistic ability to make a joke or create a stance out of any matter going on in the world. Whether it be on religious groups, or political views, Tignous was drawing out scenarios to mock them, mock them well. For almost 35 years he was a cartoonists for the legendary satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo

On January 7, 2015 at 11:30 am Tignous lost his life in a mass shooting. He lost his life by two Islamic shooters who had claims to be defending the religion of Islam…in which Islam did not need any form of defending.

Bernard Verlhac was the embodiment of Je Suis Charlie, cartoonists who was not afraid of using his talent. His cartoons were symbolic to the kind of person he was. A light-hearted French man who believed anyone could be a target, since we are all equal. For that reason his funeral service allowed his fans and fellow loved ones to create their own cartoons on his coffin to honor the kind of man that he was.

Our similarities? Using our talent to start opinions. To have people thinking for themselves on what they enjoyed or what pissed them off.

Bernard Verlhac – Tu Es Charlie

Charlie Hebdo has been known to spotlight any group and has found a way to create a laugh out of their views or beliefs…. as well as grind their gears.

Charlie Hebdo has been targeted by extremist Islamic groups for mocking the Islamic Faith. The Editor in Chief was even #3 on the most wanted list by Al Qaeda. In no way is it allowed in the religion to idolize a figure. Religious or not. Even my own mother refuses to have a Buddha figure in her home for fear of going to Hell. There is no such thing as having photos or statues and figurines of Allah or the Prophet Mohammad hanging in our homes or in our mosques. It is seen as a sign of disrespect to Allah and the faith for humanizing such a high power. So of course the newspaper used that to their advantage as a joke.

This is where my clash comes in, where the collision of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion meet. France takes pride in having liberty and freedom to all of its citizens, each citizen is allowed to speak freely and practice freely without having to face repercussions. The same fundamentals that the United States used to form the nation. Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper that takes pride in having no filter, did what they saw fitting – and each and every single one of us gets to decide how we perceive it. Charlie Hebdo, like myself live by the saying “offense cannot be given only taken”

I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions; we are human who have our own minds that can formulate thoughts individually. But as a Muslim, there is a small stop sign that reminds me I cannot disrespect or make a mockery out of the religion that I was born and raised into, that I today still practice. As an Islamic women growing in a free society – I am not offended by the drawing, but understand where others would be.

Danna Samhan and her France 2016 class of FIU Honors in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. (Photo by JW Bailly CC by 4.0)

For me? Danna Samhan – Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Islam.

The Islam the media what’s you to know is the terrorist groups and individuals who seek to frighten others with their threats and attacks. The Islam the media what’s you to know has struck down on France repeatedly, attack after attack for the country being so prideful and free; everything they’re against. It is the same Islam that has you thinking “Allahu Akbar” means an attack is coming your way rather than God is the Greatest. The Islam the media wants you to know is extremists and radical using the religion as an excuse for their actions.

A result of this; media propaganda has resulted to millions of displaced Muslims spread out throughout the world because no government wants to aid them in refuge. It means Syrians who are on the streets, helpless are still being depicted as members of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and so forth. Muslims today are exiled from society because of their religious belief, even though Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It means there are young men who are taken off a plane for saying InshAllah “God Willing” on the phone. Or beaten in a hotel because they wear traditional Islamic clothing. It means Muslims like me are strip searched at Israeli Borders and stopped randomly at TSA lines because my middle name is Mohammad.

The Islam I know is meant to promote and spread peace to those around me. I was taught to always give to those who do not have and be thankful for what I have. To never judge anyone based off their opinions and beliefs. The Islam I know taught me that we are all one in the same, brother and sister; human.

It is up to you to decide whether or not Bernard Verlhac died because of two Islamic men who represent the entire religion or if it was by two extremist men who harbored hostility and anger – what the Quran teaches us not to have.

It is up to you to decide how you want to depict an entire religion – which has the same fundamental beliefs as Judaism and Christianity – judge one of them, judge them all.

Charlie Hebdo, a week after the attack, published on the cover “All Is Forgiven” because they understood it was the killers’ fault. Not anyone else, not any other group.

Je Suis Charlie
Bernard – Tu Es Charlie
Are you Charlie as well?

Michelle Gonzalez: Normandy as Text 2018

Michelle Gonzalez: Normandy as Text 2018


Many generations have come to learn the history behind World War II, but many (much like myself) overlook the lives of men and women that have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we often take for granted. Much less, we only see veterans as sacrificial lambs that were destined to be soldiers, with no attention to their lives neither before nor after the war. Sure, we visit memorials and take a few pictures to say we were there—but were we really there? 

 Many historians try to combat this shroud of ignorance, but their efforts are futile when it comes to the lives of young men and women that have no remarkable distinction, only after they have enlisted and lost their life, such as the majority of World War II. 

Elizabeth A. Richardson was no exception to this unfortunate reality. Very few research is available online—she was just another American girl that grew up in an industrial town in Mishawaka, Indiana (Madison, 2007).  However, as this writing progresses, I’ll do my best to convey the most accurate information of the remarkable Ms. Richardson, whose life and death deserve such honor, as the rest of the three women and many men that are often forgotten and taken for granted outside of Normandy Cemetery. 

Before, During, and After World War II

Before World War II, Elizabeth A. Richardson was born in Mishawaka, Indiana where she later graduated from Mishawaka High School in 1936. Like any young girl, full of life and expectations, Richardson moved to Wisconsin where she later enrolled in Milwaukee-Downer College and worked at an advertising agency.

Before her service in the war, the isolationist policy resonated within her beliefs in which she advocated that Americans should not intervene in World War II: “The U.S. will be suckers if they enter it” (Madison, 2007). However, like many American’s perceptions, her perception also changed on December 7th 1941—the day Japan awoke the “sleeping giant” in Pearl Harbor, declaring war on the United States. 

Subsequently, as she saw her friends and loved ones being drafted, she refused to stay idle in her advertising job so she enlisted as a volunteer for the American Red Cross in 1944, along with two of her close college friends (Madison, 2007). 

After passing her physical and psychological evaluation to join the American Red Cross, Richardson began six weeks of intensive training in Washington D.C. (Madison, 2007). After her successful training, she later boarded Queen Elizabeth where she was one of fifteen thousand Americans to set sail across the Atlantic to war, in July of 1944 (Madison, 2007). 

Once in England, The Blitz and other destructions immersed Richardson in a country whose environment and infrastructure had been deteriorated by World War II (Madison, 2007). To many English and Americans of the time, the efforts of Americans such as Richardson were much revered through signs of hope. 

That is, the American Red Cross’ responsibility was just that: bringing hope to fallen troops. Richardson did this through volunteering in clubmobiles, a single decker bus that brought food and entertainment to soldiers in order lessen the stress of war and have a connection to home. However, not only did Richardson bring hope to the Americans stationed in England, she also felt like an oddity since war had created a stupor amongst men in disassociating themselves in the presence of American girls, “…you feel sort of like a museum piece—’Hey, look, fellows! A real, live American girl!'” (Madison, 2007)

Ultimately, Richardson was even more convinced that her role was to heal morale and support her brothers in uniform. She did this through bringing American culture to American soldiers that had been far away from home. Through small talk, Richardson was able to lend an ear to soldiers who hadn’t seen their wives and children or those who simply missed home. 

Moreover, throughout the war, Richardson, like the other women that volunteered for the American Red Cross, did not let her appearance fall through. I believe her attention to detail in her appearance, though rugged from war, was important in establishing morale, much of what the American Red Cross strived for. It was attention to these details that gave soldiers a sense of hope that life does carry on and that savagery does have an end. That is, like many volunteers, Richardson took the time to apply lipstick, nail polish, and even perfume! (Madison, 2007) Such pride in her appearance paralleled with her devout patriotism and efforts for soldiers to persevere. Soldiers acknowledged her feminine attempts and appreciated how women like her brought “a little bit of home” to war (Madison, 2007). 

Painted red lips, coupled with a big smile and greeting made the donuts and coffee taste better for the soldiers. However, as Richardson grew closer to the soldiers, she began to learn of accounts that were never released in newspapers or shared with a loved one back home. Richardson had become much of the soldier’s confidant, seen through what she would write to her parents, always tip-toeing around the notion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the affect it had on the men: “If you only knew what combat does to these boys—not in the physical sense, although that’s bad enough—but mentally.” (Bosshart, 2014).

Ultimately, though Richardson’s role was not that of a soldier, she was in battle against soldier’s disillusionment and morale. Her work was what we consider domestic in which she would cook, clean, and wait on soldiers (Madison, 2007). But to what extent was her role domestic amidst the battlefield? Her job required a strong emotional quotient, interpersonal, and organizational skills not all women have when embarking to a foreign country, much less war! (Madison, 2007) Richardson was much of what made the American Red Cross special to men who were absent from loved ones since the onset of war—demonstrating violence and pacifism can meet in the middle as seen through her life and death. 


            When enlisting in war, the fear of never returning to your loved ones is always eminent. For Richardson, she hoped her involvement in the war was like a “toothache” that ended quickly. Unfortunately, on July 25, 1945 at Le Havre, Richardson boarded a two-seater military plane in route to Paris that never landed but crashed near Rouen, instantly killing her at twenty-seven years old, with pilot “Sgt. William R. Miller of the Ninth Air Force” (Indiana Magazine of History, 2013).

Richardson is now interred in “Plot A, Row 21, Grave 5” in the Normandy American Cemetery in France (Madison, 2007). 

What Her Sacrifice Means to Me

             When we think of World War II, it’s difficult to find a personal connection with the many men and women that sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Many of us recall those who were drafted onto unwanted war duties, but forget those who whole-heartedly volunteered because of a sense of moral obligation to better the lives of people. Society also tends to forget the lives of women—a recurrent theme in society, evident in the four women that are buried here.

That is, Elizabeth A. Richardson was not part of an unwanted synecdoche of young men that were drafted out to fight World War II. Instead, she was a self-made woman from Mishawaka, Indiana that felt a selfless desire to help victims of war in Europe, ironically becoming a victim herself. 

It’s inevitable to feel detached to her, simply because of time and circumstance. However, the fact that she, a woman in the 1940s, volunteered in a Clubmobile through the American Red Cross to provide not just food, but a connection to home says a lot about her character to me. 

I can’t say I would personally do the same, waking up every morning, on the brink of death, applying lipstick and a smile to lessen the ambiance of war. But she did, and so did three other women here and that makes me feel so powerful as a woman. It reminds me to remember that I am also capable of doing such a selfless act for principles of freedom. However, it also reminds me that freedom comes at a price

We’re amongst that price of 9,387 dead, in which Richardson contributed smiles through doughnuts, gum, cigarettes, newspapers, and music (Bosshart, 2014) while others contributed bullets and bombs. The peace that emanates from her story signifies hope in humanity in a time of genocide, where she only contributed compassion and everyday experiences war desensitizes soldiers from. 

A quote from Richardson reads, “I consider myself fortunate to be in Clubmobile–can’t conceive of anything else. It’s a rugged and irregular and weird life, but it’s wonderful. That is as wonderful as anything can be under the circumstances.”  Though Richardson was only twenty-seven at the time of her death, she managed to be an empathetic figure of a mother, sister, girlfriend, and wife to all the men she encountered. 

Ultimately, her sacrifice is something I’ll never fully understand but can learn from to be a better person. Seeing the “wonderful” in such a bleak time is the hope we can hold onto like many fighters and victims of World War II have demonstrated. 

Currently, recent politics seem to foreshadow this historic recurrence in which we will need individuals like Richardson to see the “wonderful” again and try to forget fighting but compassion for one another, be it through coffee, doughnuts or a smile. 


American Battle Monuments Commission. (1970, January 01). Normandy American 

Cemetery. Retrieved June 30, 2018, from

Bosshart, M. (2014, January 29). Elizabeth A. Richardson, an American Red Cross 

volunteer buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy. Retrieved July 23, 2018, from

Indiana Magazine of History. (2013, December 30). Soldiers’ Solace: Clubmobile 

Women During World War II. Retrieved June 30, 2018, from

Madison, J. H. (2007). Wearing Lipstick to War. Retrieved June 30, 2018, from

John William Bailly  20 July 2019

Isabella Marie Garcia: Normandy as Text 2019

Isabella Marie Garcia: Normandy as Text 2019


for Dolores Browne

Sergeant of the U.S. Women’s Army Corps. 

Drafted from Connecticut.

Gone on July 13th, 1945 and only 23, maybe 24, years old.

I know you served in the first and only all-female, all-black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Number 6888th. I know you’re one of only four women buried in this very ground as a result of your service. I know you were one of three black women killed in a Jeep accident in France and that your fellow comrades and gracious French citizens had to raise money in order to organize your funeral. I know you were the only one of those three women who died days later as a result of your injuries and that no other traces can be found of where you come from. 

Who claims you?

That’s all I know of you. 

The women of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion, also known as the “Six Triple Eight,” went by one motto:

No mail, no morale. 

They converted temporary post offices into demanding workstations, with several shifts of sorting through sky high piles of letters and packages in order to get mail to its proper owner. Even if there were 1,000 Robert or John Smiths fighting in Europe, they would find the exact man to hand a personal message to, never failing in fully delivering and completing their missions. Over 855 women served in the 6888th battalion of Women Army Corps, and 150,000 served in the Women Army Corps. Their conditions were rough, their sacrifices were great, and for the women of the only all-black battalion, they were never publicly recognized for their service at the end of the war. 

I don’t know much. I don’t know who your mother is or where you went to school, if you loved coffee or smoked cigarettes. I don’t know if you owned a record player and would play the top hits with your best friends after school, I’m not sure if you had many friends or if you were a loner. I don’t know if you intended to marry or if you wanted to become a doctor. 

I don’t know who you really are but I recognize you today.

What I can guess is that you went abroad with a fire burning through your veins to prove yourself. Not just your individual persona, but the color of you skin and the hearts of your fellow sisters. You have to prove your worth when you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone. I’ve felt the need to prove myself but never to your extent. 

I’ll never be in your shoes. I’m not black. I come from a Cuban family that fled to avoid persecution but the shade of my skin isn’t vulnerable in the eyes of the world.

I’m a woman but privilege is real. 

I can’t relate to much of your life, but what I do relate to, I cling to, that urge to prove yourself only to fall into a trap. Nobody there at the end of the day to recognize all of your hard work. Nobody who believes in you, or at least you think doesn’t believe in you. You’ve felt all that and I have as well.

I don’t know the details of your life, Dolores, but the circumstances you lived in and what you represented have paved the way for women of color across all fields, making strides gradually but surely. You are one of four women in this cemetery, and that’s little, sure, but it’s never been about quantity.

As a young woman of your age, I thank you for what you’ve done and what you could’ve been. You are one of 150,000 women who gave themselves to us in order to be stronger, freer women. 

I see you in the young girls who run freely without care.

I see you in the young black woman who fights gun violence and breaks her throat in protest.

I see you in the innocent black lives that are lost as a result of hatred and ignorance.

Young black women, ready to fight, not with guns, but with words and their crafts, I see you.

I see myself in you, Dolores, and for that, thank you.

Isabella Marie Garcia

John William Bailly  19 July 2019

Victoria Atencio: Normandy as Text 2017

Victoria Atencio: Normandy as Text 2017


I don’t know you but I do
I admit I don’t know your name, your birthday, or even how you look 
But I know who you are. 

I don’t know you
But I know you lived, you fought, you died
Trying to resist a life that threatened the very core of humanity
From spreading its salute any further

I don’t know you
But I know you sabotaged the oppressors at every stage
Even from within the walls of a prison built to stifle your sprit

I don’t know you
But I know you rejected the dehumanization of the human race 
Under the constant cover of the cattle tag permanently etched onto your skin

I don’t know you 
But I know you questioned the prejudices that a seemingly meaningless act 
Could assign to your peers
Or the stereotypes it could confirm to the world

I don’t know you 
But I know you lived, you fought, you died without ever knowing who your actions would save
Simply hoping that you could

I don’t know you 
But I know that even if you were too young to understand the significance of your actions
The uniform you carry yourself under expresses it to the world 

I don’t know you 
But I know your experience as a casualty of war
Directly influenced the end of the horrors against humanity And exemplified the success of your ideals

I don’t know you 
But I know that even if you did not want to contribute the way that you did
You lived, you fought, you died so that little Lucienne Friedler and all the children from Maison d’Izieu could survive strongly, running and playing freely
Alive through the sentiments of society. 

I don’t know you 
But I know you tightly gripped the torch from Flanders fields 
And carried it zealously up the shores to certain death 
To confront a foe you could not see

I don’t know you
But I know you felt the responsibility of passing this idea
Through time and space from failing hands 
Of refusing to accept the unacceptable. 

Though you might not have done it all alone,
Anyone who had any role in this fight for freedom is responsible for it all
So I don’t know your name, your age, your favorite color, not even your hopes and dreams
And I’m very sorry I don’t know you
Just know that you may now sleep soundly under the poppies
Because, along with the rest of the world, 
I god damn son of a bitch sure as shit am glad that I do 
Know you 

(Editor’s note: “god damn son of a bitch” makes reference to the first English words young Joseph Weismann learned from US GI’s when they liberated France.)

John William Bailly  19 July 2019

Allison Vargas: Vuelta España 2016

Allison Vargas: Vuelta España 2016

Allison Vargas of FIU Honors College in the Alhambra in 2016


Studying abroad in Spain with Professor John William Bailly

“I began to examine the different aspects of freedom in the United States and Spain when I saw La Giralda in Sevilla. La Giralda has an immediate connection to Miami because both the Freedom Tower as well as the Biltmore Hotel were inspired by it.”

La Giralda,  a bell tower of the Sevilla Cathedral, includes parts from many cultures. Stones with Roman inscriptions were used to build the original Moorish minaret before the mosque was turned into a church during the Reconquista.

The Freedom Tower, on the other hand, was used in the 1960s to process, document, and help Cuban refugees fleeing Castro’s regime. The tower is now a symbol of hope and freedom.

I found it interesting and ironic that a tower that is the product of cultural and religious conflict is the inspiration for a tower representing freedom across an ocean. However, in the case of both towers, conflict brought about cultural blending. La Giralda itself is the product of cultural blending, while Cuban and American culture began blending at the Freedom Tower. Although the towers have very different histories, they have had parallel functions in the merging of cultures.

Sevilla’s Giralda served as inspiration for Miami’s Freedom Tower and Biltmore hotel. (Photos by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


Religion plays a huge role in Spanish history and identity—so much so that it would be illogical, even impossible, to visit Spain and not visit the amazing cathedrals and churches, regardless of your own religion.

The difference in the history of religion in the United States and Spain is starkly obvious: the U.S. has always supported religious diversity and tolerance, while Spain is the product of religious control.

Here is a brief history lesson to explain.

Both the Reconquista and the Inquisition established Christian dominance in Spain. During the Reconquista in the Middle Ages, Christian armies conquered the Moors, and the Moors were driven out of Spain. Spain became united under Catholicism by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which led to the Inquisition. During the Inquisition (1478-1834), anyone non-Christian, especially Jews, was punished. Later, during the Franco era, Catholicism was the only religion allowed legal status. The government passed laws supporting Catholic teachings, and Catholic religious education was mandatory in schools.

Today, most Spaniards identify as Catholic, but religion has become more of a tradition than anything else. There are still remnants of Spain’s authoritarian religious history, however. Cities like Toledo and Sevilla have a “Juderia” or Jewish neighborhood, although no Jews reside in it. To me, the signs of the Juderia are more like gravestones than neighborhood labels. I personally did not see a single synagogue or mosque that had not been converted into a Catholic church. During my entire time in Spain, I saw only one other church among the countless Catholic churches—a Scientology church.

The lack of religious diversity in Spain stands in stark contrast to the United States, where you may  stumble upon a multitude of different places of worship in any town. However, the U.S. is not impervious to religious discrimination, and it is not unique to Spain. Also, although both countries now claim separation of church and state, religious ideologies constantly permeate politics. In Spain, this separation is difficult, given its history;  but in the U.S. it is notable that religion plays such a large part in a country that has always had a separation of church and state, and that it is even referred to as “one nation under God”.



As I have studied in Spain, I have become aware that the level of conservatism is different than in the United States. The U.S. is actually more sexually restrictive, a reality that was blatantly obvious, especially on the beaches.

At Barceloneta and the beach at Sitges, women of all sizes and ages are commonly topless. In the U.S., topless women at a beach would most likely receive stares and even sexual harassment. In Spain, breasts seem to almost be completely desexualized, and toplessness at the beach is regarded as the norm.

Another less in-your-face, but still apparent, way in which Spain is less conservative than the U.S. is the view on homosexuality. I first began to consider this distinction on the day of the Orlando shootings. On that day, the Real Casa de Correos, a building located in Madrid, hung gay pride flags with a black ribbon on them in solidarity. After seeing these flags, I felt proud to be in a country that was standing with American citizens and the gay community. I further noted the difference in views on homosexuality after seeing several gay couples together. Although this is just as frequent in Miami, I did not notice any glares or harsh looks in Spain. These observations led me to do a little research. I found that, according to Pew Research Center, 91% of Spaniards are accepting of homosexuality, while only 60% of Americans are. Furthermore, Spain legalized gay marriage in 2005, while in the U.S., it has only been legal since 2015.

In light of the historical role of religion in these countries, the different attitudes on sexuality are ironic. It is almost paradoxical that a country so dominated by Catholic and conservative ideals legalized such a liberal statute a decade before the U.S. However, it is also relevant to note that the  Pew Research Center also found that half of Americans deem religion to be very important in their lives, while less than a quarter of Spaniards do. Needless to say, Spain’s societal attitudes have evolved rapidly, and in my opinion, for the better. I only hope that American attitudes undergo a similar evolution in the near future.
A Demon dances in fire at the Nit de Sant Joan Festival in Barcelona. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


By a stroke of luck, we were fortunate enough to be in Barcelona for the celebration of the Nit de San Joan on June 23rd. I had never heard of this holiday, or what it commemorated, before. My curiosity led me to a swift Google search. I quickly learned that the holiday has pagan origins, and long predates the introduction of Christianity. It is a celebration of the summer solstice, and the Catholic Church later combined it with the birth of St. John the Baptist. Bonfires and fireworks are at the heart of the festivities; the flames are believed to frighten and dispel evil spirits abroad on this night.

Before actually witnessing the celebration, I expected it to be similar to the American Fourth of July, which I associate with fireworks and bonfires on the beach; so when I learned that the Nit de San Joan was celebrated similarly, I imagined them to be alike. Well, it was nothing like the Fourth of July.

There was no part of Barcelona that did not have people out celebrating. Throughout the city, music was playing and fireworks were shooting. These fireworks displays, though, were like nothing I had ever seen. You did not watch them up in the sky while sitting in awe. Instead, they were detonating right beside you in the hands of people dressed up as devils—odd, I thought, for a holiday that celebrates a saint. Although being in such close proximity to fireworks is dangerous, the excitement and thrill in the atmosphere gave me an adrenaline rush that made me completely forget the potential risk.

Participating in this unique celebration really focused my attention on the differences between the U.S. and Spain; a celebration like the Nit de San Joan could never exist in the U.S.; the U.S. imposes too many restrictions! A celebration consisting of fireworks and bonfires would never be allowed to extend throughout a U.S. city. There would be regulations on the beach in the name of environmentalism, regulations on the streets in the name of safety and noise control, and regulations throughout the city in the name of keeping the festivities small enough for the police to control.

What the two countries do have in common, though, is that they have lost sight of the meaning behind their celebrations. The Nit de San Joan felt like an excuse to drink and party, not really to celebrate St. John the Baptist. Similarly, St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. has little religious meaning and now centers on drinking and partying.

Audri Rodriguez and Yina Cabrera of FIU in Espana (Photo by Vicky Atencio CC BY 4.0)


In no way is either Spain or the United States more technologically advanced than the other, but the use of, and importance placed on technology, is slightly different. Two applications of technology that I found to be unalike when comparing the countries were transportation and cellphones. These two technologies can either be used in society to augment freedom or to restrict it.

Throughout my time in Spain, there were perhaps only two occasions where I used a taxi to commute. On all other occasions, we either walked or used public transportation to get around, which seem to be the more popular transportation methods. This is a pronounced difference when compared to the most common method of transportation back home in Miami: driving.

Transportation in Miami, in fact, restricts our freedom. I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I have used public transportation in Miami, and I am willing to bet that most other Miami locals can say the same. This heavy reliance on cars leads to our infamous traffic problems. People waste countless hours of their lives in traffic, an issue that the average Spanish citizen would never encounter. Spain’s substantial use of public transportation allows for virtually no time spent wasted commuting, as well as an overall more positive commuting experience.

Cellphones are another technology that appears to restrict people in Miami more than in Spain. My reasoning for this claim lies in the observations I made while eating out at restaurants. In Spain, people at restaurants were always fully engaged in conversations with each other, and never on their cellphones. In Miami, the opposite holds true. Back home, it is rare to see people not check their phones at least once during a meal. But cellphones are not the only culprit. Some restaurants in Miami, like Chili’s for example, have tablets on every table that offer games, which further socially withdraw people from what should in reality be a social event.

So when considering transportation and hand-held devices, Spain seems to be doing a better job at using these technologies to improve lifestyles, rather than hinder them.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso is the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid


There is a complicated relationship between conflict and freedom. Conflict threatens freedom,  but it is also sometimes needed to gain or keep freedom.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica depicts the bombing of that city during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing this massive work of art at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid was extraordinary; the painting caused me not only to  appreciate Picasso’s one-of-a-kind genius, but also to reflect on what it depicts. The combination of Picasso’s artistry and the compelling meaning of the piece makes it my favorite painting of the trip.

The artwork is a universal symbol warning against the suffering and devastation of war. For this reason, a copy is displayed in the United Nations Building in New York. This fact led me to directly link the U.S. and Spain once again as I researched the willingness of both countries to use military force. I found that three-quarters of Americans agree that it is sometimes necessary to use military force to maintain order in the world, while narrower majorities of Spaniards share the same view. Furthermore, when asked whether their country should have UN approval before using military force to deal with international threats, only 45% Americans agree, compared to the 74% of Spaniards who do.

This difference in opinion may be due to Spain’s more direct connection to the pain and horror of war on its home soil. Perhaps the U.S. is more focused on the use of conflict to foster freedom, while Spain is more aware of the suffering conflict causes.

Rachel Young: Vizcaya as Text

“The Vizcaya I Met” by Rachel Young

FIU Honors students at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens © Rachel Young

The Vizcaya I Met
by Rachel Young @hereisrache of @fiuinstagram at @vizcaya_museum

The Vizcaya I met es distinto al Vizcaya que conoció mi mamá the first time she went back in the 90s
I met Vizcaya in mid-February un viernes con unos gran amigos and one of the most influential professors I’ve had
I met Vizcaya with some expectations and was left speechless when I turned the corner and saw the Bay I consider Vizcaya a friend porque sentí como si fuera parte de la familia Deering as I walked through the courtyards and gardens Not only did I feel like a friend of Deering, but I also felt like a friend of el Cubano who was responsible for bringing in the palm trees that corral the gardens A friend of all those who followed orders and garden plans A friend of all those who contributed to the creation of this historical relic A friend of all those who suffered A friend of all those who sacrificed The Vizcaya I met is frequented by Tias y Tios que están visitando los sobrinos It’s frequented by hopeful quinceañeras I know the Vizcaya I met that Friday in mid-February But what about the Vizcaya que conoció mi mamá? What about the Vizcaya que conoció el Cubano with the palm trees?


AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 12 October 2017

Marco A. Linares

Marco A. Linares (Photo by Diana Plasencia CC BY 4.0)

Marco A. Linares was born in Havana, Cuba and was raised there as well as in Ecuador and London. Now he resides in Miami and attends Florida International University where he is a member of the Honors College and is double majoring in Political Science and International Relations at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. In the future he aims to attend law school and become a practicing attorney.

FIU Honors at Vizcaya 2017

Poetry Art Community of the FIU Honors College at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (Photo by Valerie Villa CC BY 4.0)

Vizcaya through Poetry and Photography Join us as we celebrate Vizcaya through poetry and art with the FIU Honors College course “Poetry Art Community” designed by Professors Richard Blanco and John William Bailly.  The evening features Blanco and renowned poets Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich debuting their original Vizcaya-inspired poems in the main courtyard. Their voices will be accompanied by photographs of Vizcaya by FIU students. The enchantment continues with pop-up poetry readings by students throughout the gardens as you stroll under the stars and the crescent moon.  Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens 3251 SOUTH MIAMI AVE MIAMI, FL 33129

Details: November 14, 2017 7:00-9:30 p.m. Vizcaya Courtyard 7:00pm – 8:00pm readings by Richard Blanco, Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich 8:00pm – 9:30pm readings by FIU students in the Gardens Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.

The Vizcaya Poems by Poetry Art Community
The Frog Fountain Poems
The Secret Garden Poems
The Center Island Poems
The Grotto Poems
The West Pool Poems

The Exquisite Corpses at Vizcaya Poems

Vizcaya Student Guidelines

Check out Bailly’s study abroad programs
France Study Abroad Italy Study Abroad Spain Study Abroad

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 10 November 2017

Robert Chambers at Bakehouse

Robert Chambers explains the intention behind the hay installation to the students of ASC (Photo © Lily Fonte)

A Needle in a Haystack: Solving the Conflict Together
By Isabella Marie Garcia, ASC 2018 (

Red, yellow, blue.

The façades of the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC), located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, aren’t hard to spot as they boast the primary colors of art. Greeted immediately by Robert Chambers and his staff, I was told I could just wander around until it was time for the Art, Society, Conflict (ASC) class of FIU’s Honor College to begin constructing a structure made entirely out of hay. Mimicking the art studios that popped up around New York City in Greenwich Village and Manhattan, the warehouse of the Bakehouse Art Complex is lined with hallways that are home to dozens of doors and individual artist studios, both local and international. From Caracas, Venezuela and Moscow, Russia to several Miami natives, many of the studios were closed from entry but allowed a peek into the artist’s individual style and work. For the general public, the non-profit seeks to encourage one on one interaction with the artists that are housed in the warehouse and to close the gap between artists and their audience. As stated on their website, “…a visitor may meet and artist while catching a rare glimpse into the creative process of our culturally diverse and talented community of 60 contemporary artists working across myriad media.”

After meandering through the warehouse and its many studios, it was time to begin the installation that Chambers had commissioned to take place within the Audrey Love Gallery of the Complex. Ordering more than 300 bales of hay, which included alfalfa and timothy grass, Chambers explained to the class that the purpose of the installation was ultimately to provide a meeting space for young artists and students in the local area where one could sit in the installation and read peacefully, write without cessation, or even perform vocal work, such as spoken word or poetry readings. Going until the end of the spring, the installation’s hay would then be donated to local shelters and horse rescue farms in order to recycle the hay and provide nutrition to malnourished horses and farm animals. As the name of the gallery, Audrey Love, an art collector and philanthropist, represented charity and an openness with her local Miami community in founding the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami and in donating millions to arts groups around Miami communities. It was only fitting that an installation that was for the local community and would eventually return to those who need it the most would take place under the name of a woman who only wanted the best for the visual arts community of Miami.

With gloves and a very gradual unloading process, students of the ASC class came together to formulate a structure and layout that would not only incorporate openness and unity but also challenge the idea of a conventional meeting space. With input from Chambers, Professor John Bailly, the professor of ASC, and Quinn Harrelson, the 17-year old curator of the current “Collectivity” exhibition at BAC, students went from struggling to compromise on one singular idea to creating an unsymmetrical maze of seating areas and couch-like structures. Even taking inspiration from the crop circles that many believed were the result of UFOs in the late 1970s, students each brought their own perspective as to what to do with the abundance of hay that went from being fodder that sustains to becoming the foundation of a living, breathing space. The marks of the process weren’t unseen, as students left the installation with hay particles stuck to their clothing and hands red from lifting and moving the hay around the gallery. For both the students in ASC and the Bakehouse Art Complex, the installation allowed young learners, most majoring in fields that aren’t related to the arts and humanities, to get a hands-on experience and a sneak peek into the creative process of an artist.

The students of ASC would like to thank Robert Chambers and the Bakehouse Art Complex for extending their resources and allowing us to help create the installation, to Arina Polyanskaya, former student of the Aesthetics and Values course as ASC was once known, for exposing students to the organization, and to Professor John Bailly for encouraging our participation in the installation.

For more information on the Bakehouse Art Complex and similar exhibitions to the Hay Installation, please visit For more information on the Art, Society, Conflict course as taught by Professor John Bailly of the FIU Honors College, please follow @artsocietyconflict on Instagram or visit

Gallery from Hay Installation at Bakehouse Art Complex

Isabella Marie Garcia

EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly 12 January 2019


Students at Untitled, Art. Miami Beach 18′ speaking to Jacob Nguyen of the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies © Liliana Fonte

Editor: Isabella Marie Garcia (

[voks] · Noun · The latin word for voice

An independent platform for student expression. Using either spoken, visual, or written platforms, students can submit their works or personal thoughts on their experience within John William Bailly’s classes and events, whether it be study abroad or attending the Aesthetics and Values reception at the end of the spring semester. Your voices deserved to be heard and this is where they can echo and inspire other students.

Please email Isabella Marie Garcia,, if you would like your piece, in any shape and form, placed on the VOX page.

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Stephanie Villavicencio looking over Paris, France at the Panthéon in the Latin Quarter © Stephanie Villavicencio

Anxiety Abroad by Stephanie Villavicencio
During her time as a student on John William Bailly’s France 2016 class, Stephanie shares her personal experience of dealing with anxiety as she studied abroad and tried to pass through the challenges it brought during her time away from home.

Natalie Brunelle, Jacqueline Martinez, and Sebastian Villanueva within Chicken Key’s mangroves © John William Bailly

Chicken Key, Canoes, and Challenges by Jacqueline Martinez 
On April 3rd, 2018, several students from John William Bailly’s courses signed up to help clean up any trash or debris that tends to wash up on Chicken Key’s shores, a tiny island a couple of miles away from the Deering Estate property. Jacqueline recaps her personal experience and those of others who joined her on the canoeing and cleaning journey.

abandoned drinks.png
Follow @abandoneddrinks on Instagram and direct message them your findings in order to be featured on their page.

Abandoned Drinks by Anonymous
Started anonymously by a couple of FIU students, Abandoned Drinks embodies the idea of looking closer at your surroundings, and the items left behind by others. Though based in Miami, Florida, Abandoned Drinks accepts submissions from all parts of the globe and would love to see your documentation of the lonely beverages that have come across your path.

FIU Honors students reading their ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens © John William Bailly

ZipOdes by FIU Honors College students
In collaboration with O, Miami and WLRN, FIU Honors College students were invited to write and share their own ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on the evening of April 25th. ZipOdes, a hermit crab form of writing that is based on one’s postal code, allowed students to dedicate a brief passage to their own home, FIU, or Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. For more information, please go to

The world is my classroom: study abroad to Italy by Anna Tuttle
In May of 2018, Anna Tuttle participated in Professor Bailly’s Honors Italia program. As part of the Summer Sojourns 2018 series highlighting the adventures of FIU students, Tuttle speaks on her experience and the lessons she learned on the trip.

Aaron Pupo, who completed both Spain and France study abroad during 2018, standing on a peak within the French Alps © John William Bailly

Sexuality in Spain: Ida by Aaron Pupo
As one of the many students participating in John William Bailly’s Spain 2018 class, Aaron Pupo presented this essay on the history of sexuality in Spain as one of the final projects for the course, with focus on the LGBT community in the past and present. The essay presents an in-depth look at the culture of sexuality within Spain and how it was and still is viewed.

Sofia Guerra of Art Society Conflict 2018 working on the Hay Installation at the Bakehouse Art Complex © Andreina Nicasio

Jack of all trades expanded; 
Bailly’s mini-army of Artists: 
Creativity Exposed
By Sofia Guerra
Enrolled in the inaugural class of Art Society Conflict, Sofia Guerra reflects on her experience in construction an installation entirely composed of hay bales, and the challenges she faced while working on the project with her peers.

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE Isabella Marie Garcia & John William Bailly 12 December 2018

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