Kathalinna Zuniga: Aventura 2021

Photo by Giscard Johannes CC/ BY 4.0

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Kathalinna Zuniga, I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and I moved to Florida almost five years ago.  I am a persistent and committed honors student, double majoring in International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Ottawa, Canada, for about a year. Canada’s demographic diversity awakened my passion for different cultures, languages, religions, and customs, reason why I decided to explore and learn more about South Florida.

GEOGRAPHY 

Aventura Florida is one of the largest suburbs of Miami-Dade County. It is located between both, Fort Lauderdale International airport, and Miami International airport. Thus, it is the boundary of Miami-Dade and Broward county. It has the FEC Railroad on the western side, the Intracoastal waterway on the eastern side, and the NE 176th Street on the southern side. Besides, Aventura is included in the metropolitan area of Miami. Additionally, the city has 3.2 square miles of land area, and according to the city statistics, its population is 37,800 people with a growth since 2010 of 12.2% (City of Aventura, 2021). 

Photo by Roger Masson CC/BY 4.0
Aventura, Google Maps location

HISTORY 

A partnership between George Berlin and Don Soffer from Turnberry Associates made it possible to build the city of Aventura in a place that was once nothing but acres of undeveloped swamp and marshland. Indeed, Turnberry Associates saw the residential and commercial potential that this place had to offered, while investing thousands of dollars. 

Turnberry’s History, website page image.

This area was referred as Turnberry when they first started its development. However, the city’s name comes from the Spanish word Adventure. On the other hand, Aventura was built during the late 1970s as a residential area. Nonetheless, it became an incorporated city in 1995, and had its own police department in 1997.  Not to mention that Aventura also has its own manager, mayor and city commissioner who are committed to maintain the city safe and beautiful while honoring this “City of Excellence” (City of Aventura, 2021). 

Turnberry’s History, website page image.

DEMOGRAPHICS 

Aventura is home to approximately 37.800 people, with males representing 47.2% and females 52.8% of the population. On the other hand, Aventura’s seniors represent 29% with the median age being 50. Additionally, the average household size is two with 48.9% of its people married. In 2019, the median household income was $63,892, and the average household income was $112,032. Besides, almost 20,000 of Aventura’s residents have an associate, bachelors, or graduate degree. Indeed, Aventura has approximately 15,907 white collar workers and only 1,442 blue collars. 

Aventura City Government Center. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

The three largest ethnic groups in Aventura are White (non-hispanic) 54.8%, White- Hispanic 38.8%, and African American 1.98%. Nonetheless, the city also has a high percentage of diversity as 50.5% of its residents were born outside of the US. In fact, according to NBC News immigrants coming from Venezuela have transformed the Jewish community of Aventura. Thus, immigrants have created a robust Jewish population around that area. 

Aventura’s Turnberry Jewish Center. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

ENVIRONMENT 

Aventura is committed to protect and preserve the environment. In fact, the city decided to reduce its carbon footprint by “going green.” Not only that, but the city has obtained a certificate by the Florida Green Builders Coalition. Thus, the city seeks to improve its water conservation, waste, and air quality. For example, Aventura’s work vehicles are maintained by recycling all batteries and tires. Not to mention that the city is proud to be part of the building coalition that employs machinery that is energy efficient, reduces waste generated by construction, conserves water, and use “environmentally superior building materials.” 

TRANSPORTATION 

As of 2019, most of Aventura’s population use a car as a mean of transport, with approximately 14,134 people having their own vehicle. While only 242 used bus, trolleybus or simply prefer to walk. On the other hand, Aventura has an express shuttle bus free and open to the public. It has six routes that take you through different places of interest located within the boundaries of the city. These routes cover the areas of Northern Aventura (blue), Central Aventura (green, red, and silver), and Southern Aventura (purple and yellow). Not to mention, that Aventura has multiple green areas where people can transit. However, the downside of going around the city is the heavy traffic that could be encounter specially near the mall entrance (City of Aventura, 2021). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

LANDMARKS AND PARKS 

The city of Aventura has multiple parks where residents can enjoy some time outdoors. 

  • Founders Park & Splash 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

The Founders Park & Splash is only open to Aventura residents that have a valid identification. It is a 12-acre park that features sun shelters, tennis courts, exercise trails, handicap playgrounds, bay walks, a water play area, and an open space designed to accommodate, soccer, baseball, softball, and football. In addition, this park has a monument dedicated to the founders located inside. 

  • Veterans Park- Peace Park- Arthur I. Snyder Memorial Park. 

These are small parks that feature open play areas as well as covered playgrounds. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0
  • Aventura Arts and Cultural Center 

The AACC is a fascinating waterfront building situated on the intracoastal. It officially opened in 2010 while providing people the opportunity to enjoy a variety of performing arts and relevant cultural programs. 

Photo by Guillermo Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

Events at Aventura’s Arts & Cultural Center. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

FOOD AND BUSINESSES

The city of Aventura employs 17.300 people with retail being the largest industry. Indeed, Aventura Mall is the first thing that usually comes to mind when thinking about the city. As of 2019, Aventura was the third largest mall in the country. In fact, it has approximately 300 retail stores, 50 restaurants, multiple works of art, and even a 93-foot-tall slide tower. Aventura Mall was first open in 1983 when it only measured 1.2 million square feet, however, the mall has double its size since then, and the total retail area is planned to measure more than 6 million square feet. 

Aventura Mall. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

On the other hand, Aventura mall seeks to help and support local products from artisans and farmers. Thus, Aventura’s market features a diverse type of products from more than 60 vendors. Moreover, Aventura is one of the most popular places to visit in South Florida while having an average of 28 million visitors every year. 

Everybody could agree that Aventura is more than just a shopping center, it is a place to gather with friends and family while enjoying new gastronomic experiences, fashion, culture, and art. Indeed, Jackie Soffer, chair and CEO of Turnberry Associates once mentioned that retail is evolving, therefore, they have been innovating to stay ahead of the curve (JPRA Architects, 2019). 

Moreover, Aventura Mall is frequently visited because of the delicious international food that characterizes this place. Some of the most visited restaurants are Ladurée where people could feel as if they are in Paris, CVI.CHE 105 with a Peruvian taste, Pubbelly Sushi, Serafina Miami, Trattoria Rosalia, The Cheesecake Factory, PANI, or Bella Luna. 

Photo by Roger Masson at PANI, Aventura Mall CC/BY 4.0

In other words, Aventura Mall features a taste from the world, while having restaurants and small kiosks from different places. Notwithstanding, Aventura has restaurants outside the mall that are also a must try, such as, Bourbon Steak, CORSAIR kitchen & bar, SOHO Asian Bar & Grill and Barrio Latino Restaurant. 

Cholado, commonly known as Cholao’, Colombian drink at Amazonica. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

SUMMARY

Aventura is a beautiful, organized, and highly visited city. In fact, its commitment to the environment, parks, green spaces, oceans views, cultural centers and of course the Aventura Mall are nothing but fascinating, reason why the city attracts foreigners that are seeking to experiences a variety of cuisines and fashion. 

CITATIONS

“Visitor Information.” Visitor Information | Aventura, FL, http://www.cityofaventura.com/309/Visitor-Information. 

“Venezuelan Jewish Families Transform Miami Suburbs.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 11 June 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/venezuelan-jewish-families-transform-miami-suburbs-n99711. 

“Go Green.” Go Green | Aventura, FL, http://www.cityofaventura.com/192/Go-Green. 

“Best Miami Restaurants: Best Places to Eat in Miami and Best Places to Eat in Ft. Lauderdale.” Aventura Mall, 21 Apr. 2021, aventuramall.com/dining/. 

“Aventura Mall.” Architect, 29 Mar. 2019, http://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/aventura-mall. 

“Aventura Demographics.” Point2, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Aventura-Demographics.html. 

Center, Aventura. “History.” Aventura Center, http://www.aventuracenter.org/about/history. 

Kathalinna Zuniga: Miami Service Project 2021

Photo taken by Giscard Johannes. 

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Kathalinna Zuniga, I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and I moved to Florida almost five years ago.  I am a persistent and committed honors student, double majoring in International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Ottawa, Canada, for about a year. Canada’s demographic diversity awakened my passion for different cultures, languages, religions, and customs, reason why I decided to explore and volunteer so that I could learn more about South Florida.

WHO

I have been volunteering for a non-profit organization called Poverello in the city of Pompano Beach. Poverello Thrift stores were created with a beautiful mission; provide food to South Florida residents with critical illnesses who are living in poverty. Thus, their main purpose is to make a difference in someone’s lives by providing them not only food but also living essentials at affordable prices. 

Poverello Logo

WHY 

Their history and mission is what encouraged me to volunteer here. I have heard of Poverello stores in the past however, I have never taken the time to study their mission and funding process until I found this opportunity. The Poverello Center was founded in 1987 by Father William Collins, who lived during the terrible AIDS spike which took the lives of multiple people. Thus, his charity was founded under the name of Poverello (poor little one in Italian) with the intention to feed and take care of AIDS patients who were isolated and dying alone. Father Collins wanted Poverello to be a non-sectarian charity, reason why they are a very open and welcoming organization ready to help anyone in need. 

The Poverello Center first started as an AIDS Service Organization, nonetheless, Pietrogallo, Poverello’s CEO, improved the organization by creating grocery programs while wanting to prevent “weekend food insecurity.” Currently, Poverello stores help 3500 families with critical illness and food insecurity in South Florida. 

HOW

Similar to last semester, I found this volunteer opportunity while visiting HandsOn Broward website page and volunteer calendar. HandsOn Broward is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower people to make a difference for causes they care about. Thus, I was able to contact David and Tommy, managers at Poverello, through the NGO’s page. 

HandsOn Broward website page

WHERE AND WHAT 

Poverello has two stores, nonetheless, I only had the opportunity to go to the one located in Pompano Beach. 

Wednesday, April 7

10 am

Unlike other volunteer opportunities, I found Poverello Thrift stores to be very strict regarding who sign up for the day of the volunteering and the number of hours that you are going to be there. The first day I went with my boyfriend, however, I made the mistake of not signing him up through HandsOn Broward. Therefore, at the end I only went that day to sign some papers while meeting the friendly staff. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

Friday, April 9  

10:00 am to 2:00 pm

When I first got there, they taught me how to clock in using a username and password that they have created for me (see photo below). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

After clocking in, Tommy, one of the managers, told me to start opening bags full of cups, and glasses that they received the day before. After checking and cleaning everything I started to organize them in a section they have for house supplies (see photo below). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

After organizing the cups, I was going around the store with a cart checking that everything was in the right section. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

After I finished organizing all the cups, plates and candles I went to the back to start working on some bags full of clothes donations. I started opening bags and dividing men clothing from women. Additionally, we also had to divide clothes that still had tags on and designer pieces from the rest because they were going to go to the boutique sections which has different prices. 

Regular clothes which include jeans, pants, shorts, dresses, polos, long sleeve shirts, and plain t-shirts are all $2. Notwithstanding, I learned that before the pandemic hit everything was $1. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

Everybody at Poverello was welcoming and nice. They were patient and explained to me everything that needed to be done. I enjoyed working both, inside checking all the donations, and outside organizing the stuff. Inside I learned how to divide the donations while checking that all the clothes were in good condition, while outside I was entertain by all the stories I was hearing from customer. Besides, I was impressed by the number of senior citizens that visited the store that day. 

One man, for example, came looking for a baseball bat, because according to him that will work better than the pepper spray he had. While looking for it he was telling another employee that somebody harassed him in a parking lot, but he could not call the police because he already has criminal records, and he did not want problems. Reason why, he decided that it was better to buy something to defend himself, he was probably in his 70s. I heard all types of things and was having fun working outside. 

Friday, April 16 

10:00 am to 2:00 pm 

On Friday when I first got there, I went to the back, put my purse inside a locker and grabbed a tag with my name indicating that I was a volunteer. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

As usual, there were a bunch of bags full of donations. Not to mention that multiple people go and bring stuff throughout the day. Thus, I first grabbed a bag that had kitchen supplies and started to clean and organize everything.

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/ BY 4.0

That day I also had the chance to meet the “technician”, who goes occasionally and tests all the electronic donations to make sure they are good and ready to put out to sell. I honestly had fun looking through all those donations, there were really old things like an instant electronic heater similar to the one in the picture below. 

“Old Heater” google picture.

I was also able to meet Michael and Doris, two of Poverello’s employees that were working that day. Before I started talking to Michael, I thought they were volunteers, however, he told me that they are actually getting paid. Michael, as well as Doris, are part of a non-profit organization that helps 65+ citizens find a job in places such as Poverello or the Salvation Army. Therefore, they are able to work a couple of hours a week while getting some money. This made me appreciate more the fact that the store is clean and organize because is all thanks to them, to their effort. 

I also realized that sometimes I complain too much about being tired or busy. However, they have to wait to take the bus, walk a couple of streets and work the whole day there, while being happy and thankful for having a job. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

WHEN

SUMMARY

I truly enjoy and appreciate these opportunities. I have learned so much not only about these places work but also about the people that work there. I am grateful for the programs that help senior citizens in need to find a job. It has been an eye-opening experience that made me appreciate things I have and often take for granted. I hope this incentivizes people to donate things they do not use anymore. 

CITATIONS

“Management.” Poverello, poverello.org/about-us/management/. 

Kathalinna Zuniga: Golden Beach 2020

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 2019. Photo by Pamela Zuniga.

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Kathalinna Zuniga, I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and I moved to Florida almost five years ago.  I am a persistent and committed honors student, double majoring in International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Ottawa, Canada, for about a year. Canada’s demographic diversity awakened my passion for different cultures, languages, religions, and customs, reason why I decided to explore and learn more about South Florida.

GEOGRAPHY

Golden Beach is a small town with 1.8 square miles, and approximately 364 homes. It has the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Intracoastal Waterway on the west, the city of Sunny Isles on the south and the city of Hallandale Beach on the north. Thus, it is located 18 miles from Miami International Airport and 15 miles from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport (Golden Beach, 2020). Moreover, Golden Beach is one of the most desirable places to live as it characterizes for being a small, exclusive, private and quiet community. Additionally, the town is protected from commercial activity and prohibits the construction of high-rise condominiums. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
Golden Beach, Google Maps location.

The Town of Golden Beach is divided in three small residential islands, North, Central and South. 

HISTORY

R.W. and Henry G. Ralston were two brothers who founded what is now known as Golden Beach. Their plan was to build a small, intimate community next to the ocean. Therefore, almost 90 years ago this two brothers changed the mangroves and sand dunes space into exclusive single-family homes, and they spent millions of dollars in the process (Golden Beach, 2020). 

At the beginning, the streets of Golden Beach were given Italian names such as Massini Avenue, Verona, Palermo, Venice and Ravenna. Additionally, the Beach Pavilion, built in 1924, was once called Florentine Loggia because it had a strong Mediterranean Revival influenced. Indeed, many houses still have Italian designed spaces.  

On the other hand, the Town of Golden Beach was incorporated by a special act of the State of Florida in May 1929. Currently, the town holds the vision that once the Ralston brothers had, while evolving, expanding and becoming one of the most exclusive and expensive places to live in Miami Dade County. 

Moreover, I wanted to mention an article that I read about gentrification in Golden Beach (Blaskey, 2020).  Nonetheless, the definition of gentrification is different here, because the rich are being pushed out by the richer in this Town. Many long-term residents have been forced to leave Golden Beach because they cannot afford their homes anymore. Thus, many argued that it has become a different community, with many Brazilians, Russians and even wealthy Venezuelans pushing old residents out of the Town. Not only that,  but the town manager and the council have made it hard to stay in the area. Hence, I guess we are seeing a different type of gentrification, if you may even call it that way…

Photo taken from Golden Beach official site.

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

DEMOGRAPHICS

Golden Beach has a total population of approximately 1,023, with males representing the 50.44% and females the 49.56% of the population. Additionally, the median age is 44. Moreover, Golden Beach is one of the most educated communities if the state with approximately 73.11% of its residents having an Associate’s degree or higher, and 34.27% having a Graduate degree or higher. The median yearly income is $128,408, meaning that residents earn 146% more than the county, 127% more than the state, and 102% more than the nation. In fact,  household expenditures are approximately, $111,168 per year (Beacon Council, 2020). 

However, Golden Beach is a popular vacation destination. In other words, its population is seasonal, thus, during the vacation season there is a larger influx of people who rent or come to their second home residences. Therefore, after the season is over the population drops and the community is quieter and smaller as it is for the most part of the year. 

Finally, the town of Golden Beach is very ethnically diverse. Indeed, the greatest number of homeowners are White, followed by Asian. In addition, the Hispanic population represents 30.67%, and ancestries of people include Russian, Polish, Italian, and German. Not only that, but 47.63% of the residents were born outside of the United States.

Photo by Jorge Milano/CC BY 4.0

LANDMARKS AND PARKS

As Golden Beach is characterized for being a small, residential town it does not count with many places open to the public. However, some of the most iconic locations include the private beach, which is limited to property owners and monuments that are located among the parks, and have been dedicated to mayors of the town and its police department. 

The town of Golden beach currently has 9 parks were residents can enjoy open spaces and a private access to the beach. Some of the parks are: 

  1. The Town of Golden Beach Strand Park and Marine Patrol Dock 
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

The Marine Patrol covers special events happening in the town and controls the three miles of intra-coastal waterways that Golden Beach has. In fact, the town has its own Police Department which includes a community patrol division, K-9 division, detective bureau and of course, the marine patrol unit. 

2. Singe Park

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

This park was named after Mayor Glenn Singer, who helped the town while improving the residents quality of life. In fact, he purchased many vacant lots so that Golden Beach would be able to have green spaces. 

3. Loggia Beach Park: private beach park and pavilion.

Loggia Beach Park, Google Maps location.

4. Dog parks and parks open to the public: 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

FOOD AND BUSINESSES

Unfortunately, or luckily, depending on the perspective from which you are looking at it, Golden Beach prohibits any type of commercial activity. Thus, you will not find any nightclubs, restaurants or shopping centers in the town. Indeed, residents enjoy the tranquility of life far from all the craziness of bigger cities. 

However, not too far from the town, homeowners can enjoy casual and exclusive dining places such as the Soya Noddle Bar, Te Amo Café, Jupiter on the Water among many others. In addition, they can find shopping malls such as Aventura, Intracoastal mall, The Shopper at the Waterways, and The Village at Gulfstream Park. 

Finally, the industry that has being benefited the most is the real state industry. Golden Beach has properties that could cost $2,000,000 to $25,000,000 and rent could vary from $14,000 to $90,000 per month. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

TRANSPORTATION

Most of Golden Beach residents use their cars to drive around the area. Additionally, residents spend an average of 25 minute to get to work with the Interstate at only 2 miles away from the town. Not only that, but within 50 miles of the town there are 11 airports. Additionally, buses could also work as a transportation mode, but they are barely or not at all used. 

SUMMARY

Golden Beach is a small, unique, quiet and exclusive town that has definitely keep the vision of the founders. The town’s incredible houses and organization are nothing but fascinating, indeed, many foreigners are attracted to this beautiful neighborhood. However, all this wealth and power makes you think about the inequalities of Miami Dade County. While many families during the pandemic were struggling to pay for groceries and had no option but to work and put their lives at risks, others were paying almost $90,000 per month for rent and had their town banned visitors from entering the area. 

CITATIONS

About Golden Beach. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.goldenbeach.us/about/

History of Golden Beach. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.goldenbeach.us/history-of-golden-beach/

Blaskey, S. (n.d.). Gentrification 2.0? The rich are being pushed out by the richer in this Miami-area city. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article214756520.html

Golden Beach. (2018, March 20). Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.beaconcouncil.com/why-miami-dade/cities/golden-beach/

Kathalinna Zuniga: Miami Service 2020

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 2019. Photo by Pamela Zuniga.

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Kathalinna Zuniga, I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and I moved to Florida almost five years ago.  I am a persistent and committed honors student, double majoring in International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Ottawa, Canada, for about a year. Canada’s demographic diversity awakened my passion for different cultures, languages, religions, and customs, reason why I decided to explore and volunteer so that I could learn more about South Florida.

WHO

I have been volunteering for a nonprofit organization called Community Enhancement Collaboration. Their mission is to make a difference while enhancing the quality of life of residents in Hollywood and its surrounding areas. Their priority is to help those who need it most. Hence, the organization distributes food, and basic supplies as well as pet products to low-income families. 

If anybody is interested in donating, being part of the organization or knows somebody that could be benefited from this, they will be having holiday events where they will be giving toys, baby essentials and tons of food! 

CEC LOGO

WHY

Food inequality, hunger and malnutrition are issues related to International Relations and Political Science as they are part of the human rights field. Currently, in the United States 13.7 million people are food insecure, with an increasing number due to the pandemic (USDA, 2020). Indeed, many families in America do not have enough resources to meet their basic needs and are going through difficult moments. 

However, I did not choose this volunteer opportunity because it had to do something with my major, I chose it because I have seen how people that I know are struggling over the dilemma of paying rent or buying groceries, not having their utilities shut down or having something to eat in the day. Thus, the real reason why I chose this volunteer opportunity is simply to help, to do something for those who do not know where their next meal is going to come from, and motivate the community to donate and be part of this nonprofit. 

HOW

I have been part of HandsOn Broward for almost three years. HandsOn Broward is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower people to make a difference for causes they care about. The NGO has a website page where volunteers can access a calendar with the description and specific date and time of multiple opportunities. Therefore, I was able to connect with the Community Enhancement Collaboration organization through their page. 

HandsOn Broward website page.

HandsOn Broward website page.

WHERE AND WHAT

The organization is located 30 minutes away from my house, in Wiley St, Hollywood, Florida. 

Community Enhancement Collaboration location.

Monday, November 30. 

9:00 am to 2 pm. 

The first day I was completely lost, the place was full, with tons of donations and I did not know where to start. Luckily, I met three volunteers who where already working on unpacking all the boxes and they explained to me what I needed to do. 

First, we had to divide food products from hygiene, beauty, cleaning  and pet supplies. Then we had to find empty boxes and fill them with products from the same “category”. For example, all beverages were going to be placed inside one box, all feminine products such as tampons and pads were on a different box, and so on. 

After dividing everything we had to label each box, so that products could be found easier and faster. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

After my first day volunteering at the NGO, I was not only impressed by the amount of donations they get but also by the amount of food waste that there is. We found multiple bags of moldy bread and other spoiled food products. Even though the organization makes every effort to preserve all the food and avoid having people looking in the trash, there is still tons of food waste. 

Finally, to my surprise, before I left the nonprofit received a donations of 70 boxes full of meat products (see photo below). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

Friday, December 4 

9am to 3:00 pm

Friday is definitely the best day to volunteer at the organization. When I arrived at the location there was already a line of cars waiting to get their groceries. First, we had to organize and fill some bags with fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Those bags were going to be distributed among the families that were waiting in line (see photos below). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

Additionally, on the other side of the table two volunteers were checking all the boxes of eggs while throwing away the broken ones (see photo below). 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

Then we had to prepare all the stations. First station had all legume and can products as well as chocolate and candy for kids. Second station had fruits, mainly oranges and apples. Third station had meat products. Fourth station had eggs and bread or bakery products. And lastly the station, where I was helping, had bags filled with a variety of products such as vegetables, more fruits, and dairy products. 

Fifth station contained dairy products, bags of cucumbers and bags with a variety of products.
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0 

Fourth station had eggs and bread/bakery products.
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0 

After organizing and preparing everything the drive thru food distribution opened at 12pm, by that time there were already 160 cars waiting in line. Every car received one bag from each station, with the exception of cars that had the windshields up which meant that there was two families in one car, and we had to double everything we were giving. 

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0 
 
Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0 

We were done by 2:30 pm, when we received the last car. Then, we started cleaning and putting everything back inside. That day I left at 3 pm and they even gave me a free turkey, eggs, cucumbers and bread. I ended my volunteer journey exhausted but extremely happy to see all those families waving and thanking everybody for the food they were receiving, and all the kids smiling because they were getting a chocolate bar, something so simple that we sometimes take for granted. 

WHEN

SUMMARY

I enjoyed my volunteer opportunity more than I expected. I started going only to fill the volunteer hour requirement, but now I am planning to go every other Friday and help at the drive thru food distribution. Sadly, many families are going through difficult times, especially during this pandemic. According to Feeding America the coronavirus pandemic left millions of families without stable employment and more than 50 million people may experience food insecurity. Hence, the pandemic has not only worsened the humanitarian crises but has also created mass migration not only in the United States but globally. In conclusion, that experience made me appreciate even more everything I have. I am thankful for having the opportunity to serve all those families. 

CITATIONS

Key Statistics & Graphics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

Kathalinna Zuniga: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 2019. Photo by Pamela Zuniga.

Hello everyone! Welcome to my Miami in Miami blog! My name is Kathalinna Zuniga, I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia and I moved to Florida almost five years ago. I am a senior, double majoring in International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Ottawa, Canada for about a year. Canada’s demographic diversity awakened my passion about different cultures, languages, religions and customs, reason why I have decided to take the Miami in Miami class because I want to learn more about this beautiful city.

Deering as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
“A Hike to the Past”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Deering Estate, 2 September 2020.

    I found the Deering Estate a fascinating place to visit! When thinking about Miami people usually imagine stunning infrastructures, beautiful beaches, fashion, culture, and art. Indeed, Miami is all that, however, on my visit to the Deering Estate I found a side of the city that I have never known. In fact, I was amazed by the incredible ecosystem that resides there; the marine life, migratory birds, coyotes, racoons, tortoise, snakes, frogs, and the incredible variety of plants and trees. On our hike I even got to see a Pomacea, also known as apple snail, which is considered an invasive species (see photo attached).

However, what stood to me the most was the history that we found there. For once, I felt connected to this country. The Tequestas were a Native American Indian tribe that occupied this area of Florida. In fact, there is evidence of their presence at the Deering Estate grounds. On our hike, we saw their burial mound, where a massive tree has grown and will forever be the undeniable memory of the past and the ancestors that were once living in this territory. Surely, the Deering Estate is the perfect place to connect with nature and Miami’s ancestors. 

South Beach as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
“South Beach: History, Architecture and Art”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at South Beach, 16 September 2020.

The class at South Beach was an incredible combination of history, architecture and art. I felt for a moment that I was living again the time of segregation, when Carl Fisher was refusing to sell property to Jews, and darker skin Americans and Bahamians could not live anymore on the island they have built with so much effort. It is simply horrible to think that human beings were treated that way, but have things really changed? have we learned from our history? Those were the questions that were stuck in my head after hearing the history of Fisher Island.

     Nonetheless, South Beach is a now a place where people enjoy the freedom of expressing themselves without being judged, regardless of their race, ethnicity or sexuality, in fact, this neighborhood of Miami is a magnet for tourists. Therefore, this all ends up adding more to the culture, traditions and uniqueness of the area. 

     On the other hand, as we continued our walk, I was amazed by the beautiful architecture that characterizes South Beach. For example, Art Deco is a neoclassical type of architecture with rounded corners, pastel colors, “eyebrows shades” and neon lighting. Additionally, we were able to see Miami Modern/MIMO infrastructures, which are characterized for having geometric and marine designs, different textures and open spaces. 

     Finally, to conclude this post, I had to comment on how COVID has affected South Beach. While we walked through this beautiful area of Miami, we saw empty and isolated restaurants, and desperate employees that were even offering free stuff just to attracted customers. Sadly, this panorama is seen in many more places, where multiple sectors of the economy are suffering.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
“(Un)Forgotten Past”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Downtown Miami.

Downtown Miami has an interesting and contrasting unforgotten but forgotten past. In places such as the Lummus Park, the William Wagner House reminded us of one of the first permanent residents of South Florida, a US veteran, who was originally from Germany and was married to a Creole lady. In fact, this couple is a clear example of the cultural diversity that characterizes Miami today. On the other hand, in this location, we could also find the Fort Dallas, which went from slave quarters to soldier barracks and finally to a post office, a courthouse, and a tea restaurant.

Additionally, Miami has monuments such as the one of Henry Morrison Flagler that exalts his ambition and effort to build what is now Downtown Miami. In fact, he gave birth to the new identity of the city with the tourism industry. However, many people forget at what cost this urban city was built. Indeed, Flagler contributed to the segregation of that time while pushing black communities to live in a set-aside town. Not only that, but Flagler decided to build his luxurious hotel on a Tequesta burial mound, erasing part of Miami’s history.

Even though it seems that the legacy and history of our ancestors have been wanted to be erased by many, it is our duty to protect these places, and give them the significance they hold. Undeniably, we have to make sure that these treasures survive development as they are an important piece of the essence of this city.

Other than that, downtown Miami preserves well portions of history with part of the Berlin Wall, the Gesu Catholic Church, the monument of a walking immigrant located next to the Museum of Art and Design, among many others. Certainly, Miami is a beautiful and unstoppable city that holds much more history than what we can imagine.

Chicken Key as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0
“Canoes and Cleanups”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Chicken Key, 14 October 2020.

The class spent at Chicken Key was a blast. I think it was a gratifying and amazing opportunity to learn and discover new places, connect with people, overcome fears, and help the ecosystem. It was nice to have once again a different perceptive of Miami while having the chance to see the beauties of the city from a canoe. This class had something special, not only because we were engaging in a new activity in which we were all stepping out of our comfort zone during a pandemic, but also because we were meeting as a whole group for the first time. I am glad we got to meet each other and explore Chicken Key together. 

It was fascinating to see all the marine life; the small fishes, crabs, and stingrays. Nonetheless, at the same time, it was sad to see all the trash that opaque this “isolated” island. All the plastic bottles and bags, glass, shoes, and even containers were an eye-opening that let us realize that we have a long way to go in terms of preserving the ecosystem. I believe is extremely important to teach society the value of these places; habitats that are being constantly affected by our pollution. Thus, in my opinion, by doing these cleanups we are setting an example to future generations, while also motivating others to do similar activities. 

In conclusion, this has been one of the most amazing and unique experiences I have lived since I moved to Florida. Nonetheless, what paid off the mile canoeing was not only the fact that we filled six canoes with trash but, also, I was able to go with Esmeralda, Nicole, and Komila to a beautiful hided passage were freshwater combines with salt-water and creates a unique and beautiful environment where the water looked clean and clear.

Bakehouse as Text

The “Future Pacific” by Lauren Shapiro. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0.

“Ocean Gems”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Bakehouse Art Complex, 1 November 2020.

Last class we had the opportunity to help Lauren Shapiro with her project called “Future Pacific”, this exhibition seeks to raise awareness about endangered marine ecosystems while encouraging and providing researches with a platform to work with. Additionally, Shapiro is motivating the community to help and be part of her project. Therefore, during our class, we worked with unfired clay and molds that resemble coral reefs. 

     I have never worked with clay before and it was an amazing and enriching experience, not only because I got to learn new things but because I actually realized the vital role that coral reefs play in our ecosystem. Indeed, coral reefs provide habitats for multiple marine species, nonetheless, pollution, climate change, and overfishing are killing these ocean gems. As an example, the Great Barrier Reef located on the northeast coast of Australia has lost over half of its coral, and this is by no doubt an alarming situation that should concern us all! 

     On the other hand, I really like the metaphor of the unfired clay, which at the end of the exhibition will dry, lose its color, and crack, creating then the effect of a real coral reef that loses its bright colors, turns pale and dies. Thus, I hope this project will not only incentivize people to learn more about art but also to appreciate the hard work that undergoes these projects and the message it wants to send to the community.

Rubell as Text

 LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, Yayoi Kusama. Against All Odds, Keith Haring. Sleep, Kehinde Wiley. Untitled, Anselm Kiefer. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

“Filling my Cup”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Rubell Museum, 18 November 2020.

This class along with places such as the Rubell Museum have awakened a side of me that loves art and appreciates the story, beauty, and details behind every artwork. I have discovered that this class is what “fills my cup”, what gives me energy, and what I enjoy doing. After going to the museum, I was amazed by the art of Yayoi Kusama, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Anselm Kiefer, Liu Wei among many others. I was so intrigued by everything I saw that when the class finished I did some research on the museum because I wanted to learn more about the exhibitions and the artists. 

     Thus, I learned that Yayoi Kusama’s art involves dots because the hallucinations she had when she was a child were about fields of dots. Also, now I understand more the work of Kehinde Wiley and how he wants to portray or challenge the concept of masculinity, especially among black and brown men. Besides, I now pay more attention to the visual language that is behind art pieces such as the ones of Keith Haring. On the other hand, I have learned the importance of history when dealing with the past, and how an artwork might bring awareness of what once happened in the world and what those events represent in the present, as it is the case of the powerful art of Anselm Kiefer. 

     To conclude, I enjoyed our visit to the museum, and I hope to find more spaces where I can feel connected, recharged, and happy. I am sure my visits to the museum will become a regular routine. Finally, I am excited to learn more and explore that side of me that loves art, appreciate outdoor activities, and enjoy new adventures. 

Everglades as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.0

“A Subtropical Wilderness”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Everglades National Park, 20 January 2021.

Last Wednesday we had an amazing experience going to the Everglades. I have been living in Florida for almost five years and I have never been there, all this time without knowing the beauty that this place holds. When telling people, I went slough slogging in the Everglades they reaction is surprising. Most of them are just scared of the “stories”, “the things that have happened” or simply the things they imagined could happen, but nobody really knows what it is like to experience it.

I would like to break that misconception they have of this place because it is beautiful. We should instead appreciate the fascinating ecosystem we have in our backyards while taking full advantage of it. The connection we felt; hearing the birds and animals, watching the little fishes and plants, exploring the alligator hole, and not having signal, make this an unforgettable trip. Stepping out of the comfort zone and forgetting about the monotony that sometimes overwhelms us is amazing and this is the perfect place to do that.

It was really nice understanding more the ecosystem while listening to Ranger Dylann telling us about this awesome place. She said that there is a female and a male alligator that live there, as well as multiple snakes and different types of animals, sadly or luckily, we did not get to see any, but we did have the chance to see two gators while walking along one of the trails. Something that also caught my attention is the fact that the Everglades is an untouched world treasure as it is the largest subtropical ecosystem in the United States.

I wish more people would take the time to go out and explore the Everglades!

Wynwood as Text

Made by Dusk, Mette Tommerup. Photo by Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0

“What is art?”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Locust Projects , 3 February 2021.

I was never a person that knew much about art before taking Professor Bailly’s class. However, now it is something I like and appreciate. This class has awaken that side of me, the one that enjoys going to museums and art installations, the one that stares a little longer to “understand” the idea, the one that tries to look at it with a different perspective. When we went to Mette’s art exhibition called Made by Dusk this is what I felt. I was amazed by everything, and then I understood that art is not only for the ones that know about it, neither it is a traditional painting or the object that is being displayed. Art is an experience, an idea, it has the magic to transport you to a different environment, it is interacting with the space and things. 

It was really nice knowing more about Mette’s art, about Freyja, goddess of love, fertility, battle and death. I enjoyed watching the video that shows the process of her art. I like how everything was displayed, and I could not stop thinking about how big those canvases where, and how long it took her to finish the installation. I also enjoyed how she was explaining the idea and concepts of her artwork and the gold shower we had afterwards. I was wrong because I thought that by not having enough context or knowledge, I was not going to enjoy this class, but it was quite the opposite.

Bill Baggs as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

“Back Then”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 17 February 2021.

When thinking about Key Biscayne I used to only imagine the lighthouse and the beautiful, clear beach. However, the history that this place holds is simply incredible, and it is sad that not too many people know about it. Key Biscayne is the perfect spot to relax, have a date, bring family from overseas and show them how beautiful Miami is. Nonetheless, this has not always been like that, in the time of the Tequesta, mosquitos would have made these activities of relaxation almost impossible. 

While we were there, I was trying to picture how life was at that time, was it difficult to have people coming to your land trying to impose their beliefs and rules? Indeed, the first legal claim of this land was made by Ponce DeLeon, who first called Key Biscayne Santa Marta. Yet, it is fascinating to imagine the life of the Tequesta, how they would catch whales and collect wood using their “boats”, how they would trade with the Spaniards, how some member of the Tequesta would travel to Spain, or how some Spaniards would learn Tequesta to be able to communicate. So many questions that could only be answered with imagination. Indeed, I felt transported to a different place that day, while trying to imagine life at that time. 

On the other hand, the lighthouse is also a very important structure that has “survived” multiple events throughout history. In fact, the lighthouse has recovered from attacks by the Seminoles, who assassinated Carter, one of the lighthouse keepers, and left John Thompson badly injured. It has also resisted the Confederate attacks and dangerous tropical storms. After our visit to the Big Baggs Cape Florida State Park, next time somebody mentions Key Biscayne I will definitely think about the unforgettable history that surrounds this place and not only about its beautiful beach.

River of Grass as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

“Our Soldiers”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Everglades National Park, 7 March 2021

The Everglades is such an amazing place that few people visit, yet it holds the most amazing ecosystem and history relics. Every visit to the Everglades is memorable, however, I felt the most connected last time we were there. When we were visiting the Nike Missile Base, I could not stop thinking about the soldiers that once stood to fight for their country in that same place. I could not stop thinking about my father and how a few years back he fought for his country, Colombia, ending with a broken spine, and with almost no chances to walk again. I could not stop thinking about Rahjanni’s husband, a friend of mine, who committed suicide after being deployed in the Middle East multiple times. He could not deal with the traumas that those places have left. It is sad how we sometimes take for granted the sacrifices that others have made for our freedom and peace.

I hope that visit reminded us of the 200 million people that lost their lives during that war. I hope it remined us of their hours of trainings, their uncertainty, fear, pain, all the difficulties they lived, their families, and the heartbreaking moment of receiving the flag of the country, as a sign that you loved one have died defending the country. I hope after that visit we take a minute to think about them, and how they put at risk their lives and health for us. I hope after that visit we think about the millions of soldiers that are far from home, fighting for this country.

Frost as Text

Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display, Roberto Obregon. Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

“Perceptions” 

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, 17 March 2021

Obregon’s work has been one of my favorites, the delicacy and preservation of the rose petals is impressive. However, what I like the most is that his work touches upon multiple aspects such as scientific classification and human interaction. Hence, Obregon’s artwork could be interpreted in different ways.

When we first walked to the exhibition, I did not understand the purpose of Obregon’s work or what he wanted to portray in all those glued and watercolor petals arrangements. Nonetheless, as I immersed myself in the exhibition, thinking, touching, and watching everything, I started linking those things to my personal experiences. First, I started to look at the petals in a more geographical way, thus, to me, their shape resembles countries. Additionally, after watching the silhouettes of people and petals that are displayed in a wall that looks like a board game (see photo attached) I thought about politicians playing with the faith and welfare of each of those countries (the silhouettes of people being politicians, and the petals being countries). 

On the other hand, something that grabbed my attention was the sick rose. Petals that were eaten by bugs and look significantly different from the other ones. When I saw those petals, I thought about countries that are not in a good position right now and resemble that damaged petal. In addition, Obregon organized each one of the petals he collected by numbers, numbers in which we also classified countries, according to their economic, military, and political power. 

It is incredible how you can connect Obregon’s artwork with things that are of your interest. In my opinion that is the magic of his art. Obregon was able to dissect those roses and erase, at least for some time, the idea or connection we have created between roses and love, romanticism, feminism, and even death. Therefore, I was able to interpret his art in my own way, while thinking about world politics.

Coral Gables as Text

Photo by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

“Guavonia”

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Coral Gables, 21 March 2021

Once again on our visit to Coral Gables we got to see a place that does not look anything like Miami, or at least to the idea that the media has created of this beautiful place. The misconception that often links Miami to beaches and nightclubs starts to shade away as we walk through the streets of Coral Gables.

When walking inside the Biltmore Hotel, for example, you feel like you are multiple years back in time when this historic gem was first built, or even better you feel as if you are in the Giralda. It is fascinating to think that the Biltmore hotel went from having the largest pool in the world and being the tallest building in Florida, to a World War II hospital, and finally, to the amazing place that welcomes tourists and locals today.

On the other hand, the architecture of the city is beautiful. The Mediterranean Revival style that predominates in the area is inspired by both Spain and the Mediterranean. Hence, the city has a cohesive identity that is related to its architecture. Nonetheless, we can now see how some enormous buildings start to overshadow the traditional ones. Despite that, places such as the Venetian Pool, the Miracle Theatre, among others make this city a historic relic.

In addition, all the pictures and images that we saw at the museum are amazing. It is hard to imagine that the city was once a subtropical hardwood forest that looked nothing like it does today. Oftentimes, when thinking about the construction of Coral Gables, the first name that comes to mind is George Merrick. However, as we have seen in past lectures, African Americans and Bahamians are the ones that have put in the hard work to build all those beautiful cities. Indeed, there is a lot of people that helped to build Coral Gables.

Vizcaya as Text

Collage by Kathalinna Zuniga CC/BY 4.0

“What Miami is today…” 

By Kathalinna Zuniga of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 14 April 2021

I could not imagine a better way to end this class than at Vizcaya. Something that Professor Bailly said during class and resonated with me was that so much of what Miami is today starts here, at this beautiful dream house. Indeed, everything about that construction and its architecture is fascinating. The contrast of the “mangroves” with the ocean view is nothing but peaceful. However, at the time of James Deering, there was nothing peaceful about that house, as the back entrance welcomes you with a sculpture of Bacchus, also called Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy. 

     During our class I was trying to picture the life of James Deering with such a beautiful and enormous house, all to himself. In fact, there was so much work put into that property, every detail; the sculptures, the marble pieces around the house, the limestone used on the exterior, the paintings, the style that prevails in each room, everything is stunning. I wonder how he was able to convince and bring so many people to work in a remote place full of mosquitos, just to please his desires. How did he manage to import all the stuff from Europe during a World War War. How many workers were needed to build this amazing house… so many questions arise when you start thinking about all the work that was required to build this house.  

     Undoubtably, Vizcaya is one of my favorite places in Miami. The fact that James Deering purchased a 1,000 feet waterfront property, and built a European style house in the middle of the mangroves sounds even crazy, but it is such an elegant and stunning place. Nonetheless, I think James Deering was living a fantasy life, with paintings of kids that were not his, instruments that were never played, portrays of people that were not related to him. In my opinion, his house was a façade to the real James Deering.