Komila Kholmatova: Miami Service Project 2021

Komila Kholmatova at Florida International University.
Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova (CC by 4.0)


Komila Kholmatova is a junior student at Florida International University, she is a part of Honors College and majoring in International Business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. As an international student from Uzbekistan, Komila is very excited to be a part of this course and have an opportunity to learn more about the history and the culture of beautiful Miami. After finishing her degree at FIU, Komila hopes to start up her own business. Apart from school, she likes cooking, travelling, reading and painting.


I was lucky enough to volunteer for two institutions for my service project.

The first one is the Florida International University’s Student Programming Council (SPC). SPC is a student-led organization located at both MMC and BBC campuses that organizes various events for FIU students’ community. Events vary from lectures to workshops, movie nights, concerts, shows and pool parties on regular basis. Even though the pandemic had put a big end on all the in-person events, SPC continued to program engaging virtual events and volunteering opportunities for its community. As the situation started to become better in regards to Covid-19, in-person events started to happen by following strict social distancing rules along with other policies. Thus, I was able to become a volunteer on one of their events “Pride Drag Show”.

The second institution is Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center. The rich in flora and fauna Castellow Hammock is named after James S. Castellow who was a citrus farmer that declared the property of 160 acres and built his homestead in 1900. The park was opened in 1974. Today the park is a home to more than 120 birds, 70 butterflies, hummingbirds and many more other species. Castellow Hammock offers a big range of educational activities and volunteering opportunities perfect for everyone. Thanks to the park’s volunteering opportunities, I was able to become a part of their Youth Service Earth Fest.


As a thriving person for new experiences and adventures I always try to look for something that I have not done before. Even though the pandemic has significantly affected the variety of options for volunteering I am glad that I was still able to find something different like the “Pride Drag Show” and the “Youth Service Earth Fest”.

Being form a country where homosexuality is illegal- and people fear and refuse to talk about their lives and sexual orientation- I was never able to learn and understand this social dilemma regarding acceptance of LGBTQ community. Today, around 174 countries around the world socially accept LGBTQ people. Nevertheless, in Uzbekistan being a part of this community means being a criminal. Coming to this country allowed me to see perspectives that would have otherwise been shunned away from my learning growth as a compassionate human being. Thus, I decided to volunteer at the Drag to raise the awareness for the rights of LGBTQ community and show my support during the pride week at FIU.

As for “Youth Earth Fest” event at Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center, I always liked everything related to nature. This specific opportunity at the park was a perfect chance for me to spend a great time outdoors and help our mother nature to be a little bit more beautiful, green and clean. As human beings take care after themselves, nature also needs to be taken care of, and only we humans can help nature by caring and beautifying it in all possible ways would it be watering or planting.  Big parks like Catellow Hammock are always open to a helping hand and this time I was glad to provide mine.


Since one of my friends, Aleksandra Baryshnikova, and me were looking for volunteering opportunities together, she referred me to the “Pride Drag Show” event. The volunteering opportunity was sent out to all FIU Honors College students and I was able to complete the sign-up form as soon as I was told about it. The event collaborated with LGBTQ initiatives and Erica Jayne Friedman, the associate director of Pride center at FIU. I am very grateful and happy for all the opportunities that Honors College provides for its student, including this amazing one. Despite pandemic, FIU is still doing its best to entertain students and create engaging big range of events.

For my second volunteering opportunity, I had to do a little research online. After visiting Miami-Dade County’s website for Volunteering and looking for what they offer, I came across “Park Service Day” and signed up right away, since it caught my attention for being held during “Earth month” and at the location that I have never attended. To sign up, I had to create account and sign a form that included parks policies and guidelines.


“Pride Drag Show”

The photo of Komila Kholmatova of at Pride Drag Show.
Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova /CC BY 4.0

On April 10th 2021, I together with my friend Aleksandra, arrived to the GC Lawns at FIU MMC campus around 2:40 pm. The event setup had to start around 3 pm and everybody including us were gathering at the venue for about 10 minutes. After everybody has arrived, we were introduced to SPC leadership and organization team, Miss Hope- one of the students leaders- had given us a little heads up on what we were going to do. Meanwhile, before the event each of us had received event day details including timeline and task that we were assigned to do via email. Every volunteer received a T-shirts and event tag that included the QR-code for the event’s details and additional information. After changing, we got into work. First, we had to set up tables and wrap them up, and check that chairs were set 6 feet apart. We also packed and distributed giveaway bags at several tables around the venue and organized food and drinks at the tables. All preparation and setting up took about 2-2.5 hours.

The photos taken at Pride Drag Show.Photos by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

Guests started to arrive around 5 pm. We had different tables to entertain guests, like DIY resin keychain table, food and drinks table, a mask painting table, table of giveaways, and Pride flags and pins. Aleksandra and I were assigned to distribute food and drinks to the guests. While giving away food we met a lot of new FIU students and I was happy to meet some of my friends that I did not see for long time. The show started around 6:30 pm, and luckily we had chance both to volunteer and enjoy the show itself, since our table was right next to the stage we were able to watch it from the beginning to the end. 

The collage of photos of Drag Queens. Photos by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

This was my first time witnessing a Drag Show and it was insanely incredible. I was completely delighted by the performance of the Drag Queens and astonished about how mobile and charismatic they are. Everybody had so much fun, they danced, laughed, played games and at times screamed saying “YAS QUEEN” by raising the index finger of the hand as a supportive sign to the Drag Queens. As the show ended, guest started to leave and we volunteers started to clean up and wrap up food leftovers. After finishing cleaning we brought all the tables and equipment used for the events back into the SPC office and headed home around 10 pm.

“Youth Service Earth Fest”

The photo taken at the Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center. Photo by Komila Kholmatova. /CC BY 4.0

On April 17th I arrived to Castellow Hammock Park in the early morning at 8:45 am. We had to clock in as soon we arrived to confirm our service hours later on. As people started to arrive and it was 9:00 am, the introduction presentation started, and the Park’s Ranger Mr. Erik King described our plan for the day. Since April is the Earth month, our cleanup was named Earth Fest to encourage people to sign up and help our Earth to become a better and a cleaner place to live.  There were around 15 volunteers of all different ages gathered for the park clean up. We were divided in several groups and assigned different task in order to keep social distancing- and be able to assist park in variety of work. Our group consisted of three people and our working area was the butterfly garden. We were given work gloves and other working tools like hedge shears, pruning shears and wheelbarrow.

The photos taken at the Castellow Hammock Park
by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

We pulled out wild plants and weeds that damage the garden and eventually attract insects that might harm the butterflies. During the 2.5 hours we also cut the bushes and tried to shape them in a beautiful circled shape. My favorite part of the work was creating a path by cutting branches through an overgrown garden, unfortunately we were not able to finish the entire path, since the garden was large, but we managed to get to the middle of it. As it was only 3 hours shift, the time flew by so fast and we did not even notice that it was 11:30 am and our shift was coming to an end.

The photos taken at the Castellow Hammock Park by Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0

At the end of the service, every volunteer was given a free lunch brought from the local café, Mango, as a token of appreciation for the help provided to the park. It was an amazing ending of the service, since we did not only enjoy eating our lunch but simultaneously we learned about the endangered Miami Blue Butterfly through park’s documentary   that was broadcasted for us through YouTube.



I am beyond grateful for every single opportunity that comes towards my way to help our society, nature and world. Honors College volunteering should not be taken for granted because it is a portal that brings the most positive and brightest character traits out in every person. I am very glad that I was able to engage and raise awareness regarding the community, social and global issues throughout world thanks to my honors courses. I appreciate that I was able to participate in the Pride week event and show my support and appreciation to the LGBTQ community in our society and attend the Earth clean up service.

I sincerely believe that there is more goodness than evilness in the world, and in order to keep the balance on the side of good, us people must stop at some point and forget about our problems and do something good that will help our friends, our neighbors, our nature or people that are in need of help. When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to say to me that “If every person in this world would plant a fruit tree next to their house-our air would become less polluted and those trees could feed thousands of hungry stomachs”. By mentioning that I meant that each of our help to the environment, society and nature matters and only by sticking together, raising social issues, participating in such volunteering events and even doing something little that will bring smile on someone’s face will help us to make our world a better, safer and cleaner place to live!  


Communications, Florida. “Student Programming Council – Get Involved Student Affairs – Florida International University – FIU”. Studentaffairs.Fiu.Edu, 2021, https://studentaffairs.fiu.edu/get-involved/student-programming-council/. Accessed 20 Apr 2021.

“Castellow Hammock Preserve & Nature Center”. Https://Www.Southfloridafinds.Com/, 2021, https://www.southfloridafinds.com/park/fl/miami-dade/miami/castellow-hammock-preserve-nature-center.html. Accessed 20 Apr 2021.

Komila Kholmatova: Wynwood 2021

The Photo of Komila Kholmatova. Photo by Violetta Rudenski/ CC BY 4.o


Komila Kholmatova was born  and raised in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. Currently, Komila is a junior student at Florida International University, she is a part of Honors College and pursuing her degree in International Business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. As an international student, Komila is very excited to be a part of this course and have an opportunity to learn more about the history and the culture of beautiful Miami. After finishing her degree at FIU, Komila hopes to start up her own business. Apart from school, she likes cooking, travelling, reading and painting.

For her Ineffable Miami project, she chose to explore Wynwood. To learn more about the city read below.


The photo of Wynwood Walls in Wynwood, Miami Fl. Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0

Wynwood, also known as one of the world’s largest open-air museums, is a neighborhood located in in the city of Miami, Florida. The neighborhood is surrounded by Overtown to the south, Midtown and Edgewater to the east, Allapatah to the west and Miami Design District to the north. Today, approximately 50 city blocks are the one that lure folks with its enormous galleries, vivid murals painted by prominent artists of the world, and colorful museums and restaurants. Located close to the Interstate 95 and central city area, the concrete jungles of Wynwood is limited to parks and green zones. (“Wynwood”).

Map of Wynwood. The red line represents a border of Wynwood.


Josiah Chaille was one of the founders of Wynwood Miami.  Source: https://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/

Wynwood is almost a 100-year old neighborhood that is rich in history that dates back to early 1900s. However, very few people today are aware of it. On January 7th, 1917 a couple of Miamians Hugh Anderson and Josiah Chaille purchased the land that was farmland and included a part of Pulaski Estate. If not for the annexation held in 1913 by the city of Miami, the neighborhood might have been included in North Miami. Originally two partners named this neighborhood as Wynwood, however after a couple of months the letter “d” was dropped from the name. Later, the area became called Wynwood Park, and then went back to Wynwood and remained the same since then. The original boundaries of the neighborhood were determined by NW 7th Avenue to the West, the FEC Railroad Track tracks to the east, NW 36th Street to the north and NW 20th Street to the south.

Apart from being a part of the founding of Wynwood, J. Chaille and H. Anderson were both involved in the development of Miami itself. Josiah Chaille made a great contribution to the Miami City Council. A numbering system in a plan and a new street name provided by Chaille were enacted by the city council in 1920. The “Chaille plan” included the numbers and modern streets names that exist till today in downtown Miami and closely areas, and was adopted in 1920.  Hugh Anderson took part in developing Venetian Islands and Miami Shores. Also, he was one of the founder builders of Biscayne Boulevard.

Working class and The Fashion District

Wynwood served as a working class neighborhood and most of the families who resided in the area were middle class in the early 1920th, and as time passed commercial residents started to become attracted to Wynwood as well. In the late 1920th Wynwood witnessed the boom of the garment industry and its southern portion became the Garment District. As Cubans started to migrate to Miami, they were the one who provided the workload for this growing fashion district, which consisted of manufacturers and retailers of clothes. According to Miami News on October 27th in 1980, the fashion district consisted of 225 businesses that made around $64 million in sales for retailers and $125 million in revenue for manufacturers.  As the Garment District grew in popularity in the 1980s the manufacturers started to make a place for retailers and move out of Wynwood. In 20 years, many of the businesses were sold to South Koreans. (Piket, 2014).

Little San Juan

In the middle of 1950s Wynwood became known as “Little San Juan”.  Due to the reason that commercialization and urban flight has impacted the neighborhood local residents including old timers and youngsters started to move away and instead of them other immigrants began to fill the neighborhood. Most of the immigrants were Puerto Ricans and they represented the initial great influx of Miami and thus the area was referred as Little San Juan. The influence of the influx of Hispanics, specifically the Puerto Ricans affected the names of the many places in the neighborhood. The name of the Wynwood Park was altered to Roberto Clemente Park in 1974 after the Puerto Rican baseball player’s death in 1972. Built in 1924 Robert E Lee Middle School was closed in 1898, due to the old condition of the building, and it made a place for a new school that was named Jose De Diego Middle School and opened to the public in 1999. The name changing did not leave untouched public service centers such as Eugenio Maria de Hostos, which was named after a Puerto Rican writer and patriot, and Borinquen Health Care Center that was named after the ancient Puerto Rican island. Regrettably, over the years what left from Little San Juan would become subject to gentrification.

Fall of the Wynwood and the rise

Gradually, the neighborhood became more diverse and included not only Puerto Ricans but also Colombians, Haitians, Cubans, Blacks and Dominicans. In the late 1970s, the Wynwood neighborhood was regarded as lower middle class and considered a “springboard community” due to the influx of new immigrants. Drug traffic was ominous and unemployment was 55%. The aim of the common laborers was to improve their financial status so that they could leave Wynwood as soon as possible. Dottie Quintana served as an unofficial Mayor of Wynwood for more than 10 years. She did make an enormous impact on the community of the neighborhood together with her husband by gathering food for Haitian Immigrants in the 1970s and by helping Cuban refugees in the 1980s. There are stories of how she would drive the Wynwood in her old Chevy sedan at night and would make notes of the drug trafficking dealers including other illegal characters and on the next day she would leave them in a discreet way to the police station. Thanks to her great work, efforts and achievements, the community center in Roberto Clemente Park was named in her honor as Dorothy Quintana Community Center.

Over the years in the middle 2000s Wynwood attracted Goldman Properties. Tony Goldman, a man of power and energy behind SoHo revival and South Beach, who unlike others sees a thrive and art in neighborhoods instead of urban decay saw an art scene in Wynwood. (Piket, 2014). In 2006, Goldman along with his son Joey and daughter Jessica started purchasing land with a dream of establishing an open air museum with colorful murals called Wynwood Walls. And in two to three months his dream came true and the gallery was opened in October of 2009.  As Goldman vision, Wynwood became a canvas for street artists and had and has been attracting various retailers, restaurants and bars and many more other businesses. Sadly, at the age of 68, Tony Goldman passed away but he left his dream and passion that continues to live through his children, who until nowadays fund Wynwood community and manage Goldman Properties.


According to Areavibes website, Wynwoods population is approximately equal to 17,923. The general population ratio is 1.2:2, respectively Male/Female. The average  household income distribution is $40,000 to $60,000, and it makes up 18% of the total. The highest number of population is White (70.50%0), followed by Black (19.11%), Asian (1.28%) and American Indian (0.24%). In terms of age breakdown, over 20% of the population consists of people between 25-34 years. The median age is 35.2 and it is 11 % lower than Miami median age.

Interview with Isabella Bodnar: Resident of Wynwood.

The photo of Isabella Bodnar. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

Isabella is 21 years old. Currently, she is a senior studying at Florida International University. Prior to living in Wynwood she lived in Tampa and moved to Miami to attend school.

*Komila: How long have you been living in Wynwood?

Isabella: I moved to Wynwood about a year ago and this year it is going to be my second year living here.

*Komila: Why did you decide to live in Wynwood?

Isabella: I really enjoyed Ybor city (the arts district in Tampa) so I thought I might enjoy living in a similar area. I really love it and its and even bigger and better arts district than the one I have at home.

*Komila: What is your favourite thing about Wynwood?

Isabella: Along with loving the arts, I really do love the variety of food that I have at my disposal. If I don’t feel like eating food down the street from my place, I can always walk one or two more blocks and there’s an entirely different and amazing selection of food available.

*Komila: What is your least favourite thing about Wynwood?

Isabella: Wynwood is a very lively and active part of Miami. There are always events going on and Tourists love to visit. I would say my least favorite part is trying to park and the pollution and noise that goes along with being an attractive part of town.

*Komila: If you could choose one place to visit in Wynwood what would it be?

Isabella: There are so many places to look at art in Wynwood, but like I said, I really love the food. I would definitely recommend visiting “House of Mac”, a mac and cheese joint that was founded by Pitbull’s former manager! The food is delicious and the atmosphere is chill. They usually have a Dj playing music, so you can jam out and enjoy delicious cheesy mac and cheese.


Wynwood Walls

Photo by Komila Kholmatova/CC BY 4.0

If a tourist would visit Wynwood a must go destination would be Wynwood Walls. Conceived by a pacemaker Tony Goldman, the Wynwood Walls became a major tourist attraction that includes the artwork of the world’s most famous artists in the street art and graffiti genre. Since its establishment, the Wynwood Walls program has served as a hosting place to more than 50 artists depicting 16 different countries. The artwork of Wynwood Walls has covered 80,000 feet of Walls. As the time passes, Wynwood Walls expand its territories and open doors to new world class art and well-known artists. The tickets to this beautiful destination may be purchased at the Guest Welcome center, which is located at 266 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127. The current general admission price is $10. Additionally, they provide various tours, events and memberships.

Margulies collection

The photo at Margulies collection. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

The Margulies collection at the Warehouse is located at 591 NW 27th St, Miami, Fl, 33127. It is a non-profit organization extended to 50,000 square feet of land. It introduces seasonal exhibitions to the public from the collection of Martin Z. Margulies, who owns the place and has collected more than 5,000 pieces of artwork of a different kind. The main mission of the renowned collector is to encourage the education of art in the community. As Mr. Margulies once mentioned himself in one of Miami in Miami classes that were held at the Margulies Collection, “art is about learning and educating yourself” (Margulies, 2020). The Warehouse is open to the public from Tuesday to  Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. The admission is free for Florida students, the general admission for adults is $10,  and $5 for out-of-state students.

Bakehouse Art Complex

Photo at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

The Bakehouse Art Complex was founded in 1985 for artists and  by artists. The Bakehouse incorporates 100 associate artists and residents coming from a rich cultural diversity of backgrounds. The art complex is one of the oldest foundations of Miami with a big range of studios, galleries, ceramic and wood-working areas, classrooms and printing and photography labs. The Bake house allows artists to learn, share, make, discover their art and work with each other and a wider community. The garden and indoor galleries of the Bakehouse are open to the public each Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 5pm. Admission is free of charge. RVSP is highly recommended, since it would guarantee the admittance.


Roberto Clemente Park

Roberto Clemente Park is the only park in the Wynwood neighborhood. It is located at 101 NW 34th St, Miami, Fl, 33127. Originally named as Wynwood Park, the green space was renamed to Roberto Clemente Park as a sign of dedication in July of 1974. The park was named after the baseball player from Puerto Rico who passed away in a plane crash in December 1972. The park witnessed name change due to the Hispanic influx in the middle 1960s. Today, the park provides various programs to the public that include Basketball and Baseball League, Children and Senior citizens Arts and Craft, after school and seasonal programs. Roberto Clemente Park is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am to 9 pm and on the weekends from 9 am to 5 pm.


Due to the central location of the neighborhood, transportation is very well-developed and it is convenient and easy to find ways to reach needed destinations. There is the City of Miami Trolley which is free of charge and makes multiple stops around the city, including the most wanted tourist destinations as Wynwood art District and the Wynwood Walls. Metrobus is another type of transportation. The Metrobus routes are 2, 6, 77, and 277 depart from Government Center located in the downtown right to the center of Wynwood’s Art District. In order to catch Metrobus one should take the Metrorail to downtown Miami and then transfer to different bus-rides would be available. The hours of operation of Trolley are: Monday through Saturday from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm. No service provided on Sundays. To plan the trip and stay on the right track of the ride it is suggested to download the Miami-Dade Transit Tracker app. In addition to the public transportation, ride sharing on the Freebee cars, Bike sharing and Moped sharing are available for the comfort of the community.


Wynwood is one of the districts of Miami that became the richest home to a big variety of restaurants, cafes, bakeries and markets.


The photo was taken by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

1-800-Lucky is my most favourite restaurant in Wynwood. Restaurant serves a wide diversity of Asian cuisine,  from Japanese to Thai, from fish ice-cream to dim sums with shrimps and poke. Guests can take a virtual tour of the inside of the restaurants and get access to an online menu. The restaurant has an amazing atmosphere with live music, karaoke and of course eclectic and delicious offering of cuisines!  Reservations are not required. The restaurant is  open every day from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am on Monday through Wednesday, and from 12:00 pm to 3:00 am from Thursday to Sunday.

Zak the Baker

Source: http://mitchandmeltakemiami.com/zak-the-baker/

Bakery was established in 2012 by the head chef Zak Stern. Zak the Baker is a kosher food restaurant that gained its popularity for its sourdough bread. It is one of my favorite bakeries in Miami. If you are nearby, you simply cannot help but go to the bakery because of the delicious smell of freshly baked bread. They also serve various bakery and food. It is a great place to have a breakfast with a cup of coffee and freshly baked bread with butter. The main chef Zak Stern was named Best Baker by the Miami New Times and received several awards for distinguished service and quality.

Giache crepes of Art

Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

Founded by Valeria Giache the Giache crepes of Art restaurant was created through a family tradition passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. Valeria mesmerized her entire childhood with her grandmother’s crepes, the recipe of which was passed from generation to generation.  She wanted to share the flavor with the rest of the world and she did by opening this beautiful restaurant with wonderful delicious pancakes, the taste of which cannot be compared with more than half of the pancakes located in the restaurants of entire Miami. The restaurant serves freshly made crepes and rolls of a different kind. They also provide gluten free and vegan options.


Wynwood is one the most dynamic and colorful neighborhoods in Miami. Even though I have visited Wynwood several times, I was not able to truly appreciate its beauty and learn about its rich history behind the colorful and bright walls. It is not just a neighborhood, it is an open air museum and a district the walls of which are the canvases to the most eminent artists of the world. Like many other neighborhoods have their drawbacks, Wynwood also has one and it is a limited number of green spaces. The only green space in the area available to the public since 1917 is Roberto Clemento Park. Hopefully, the concrete jungles of Wynwood would execute new green plans for the district. The pricing for most of the restaurants, museums and galleries is frank and affordable. 

Wynwood plays an integral role in the identity of Miami and serves as an outstanding example among all with its rich history and cultural melting pot. Every culture who lived through the history of Wynwood has left a mark that will always remain with us and continue to embrace the identity of Miami.


 “A Brief History Of Wynwood”. Wynwood Art Walk Official, 2013, https://wynwoodartwalk.com/brief-history-of-wynwood/.

 Digitalcommons.Fiu.Edu,2011, https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1108&context=mpo_dade.

“Directions & Lodging | Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida”. Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida, 2021, https://wynwoodmiami.com/experience/directions-lodging/.

“Home – Margulies Collection”. Margulieswarehouse.Com, 2021, https://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.

Piket, Casey. “History Of Wynwood Miami – Miami History Blog”. Miami History Blog, 2014, https://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/.

Shulman, Sara. “The Complete Guide To Wynwood, Miami”. Tripsavvy, 2019, https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-complete-guide-to-wynwood-miami-4174451.

Komila Kholmatova: Miami Service 2020

Photo taken of Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate. Photo By Nicole Patrick/CC BY 4.0.

Hello everyone! My name is Komila Kholmatova. I was born and raised in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and  for being completely surrounded by mountains.   I came to US 2 years ago to study and chase my dreams. Currently I am a junior at Honors College at Florida International University. I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in International business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. In the future I hope to run my own business and create my brand. I really love traveling, getting to know new people, trying new food, painting and listening to music. My passion for travelling, discovering new places and serving to society contributed to my decision to take Miami in Miami class and learn more about this beautiful and diverse city.

To learn more about the project that I was engaged in this semester, continue reading below!


Photo by Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate/ CC BY 4.0

I volunteered for the Deering Estate Foundation. The rich in history and culture the Deering Estate is a house that was owned by Charles Deering until 1927. The Deering Estate foundation was organized in 1989. The main goal of the foundation is to raise awareness of the public, conception, and enjoyment of the Deering Estate. The natural area of the Estate is preserved and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “There is no other parcel of land of greater historic importance in South Florida” (M.S. Douglas, 2020). It is an amazing place with a century museum, various tours and events, and most importantly with volunteering opportunities. As a part of Miami in Miami class taught by Professor John Bailly, I was able to attend two coastal clean-ups at the Deering Estate: one of which was cleaning marine debris at Chicken Key Island and another one was mangrove canoe cleanup. Aside from coastal clean-ups, the Deering Estate provides other volunteering opportunities as “Gardening, Weeding, and Adopt-a-Trail Volunteer”, “Visitor Guide and Museum Exhibit Volunteer”, and “Special Event Volunteer”.


I am very passionate about helping people and saving our environment. I strongly believe that we come to this life with a meaning of living it for the good of each other. I believe that every person has kindness inside, thanks to which we can make the world better than yesterday.

Before coming to study in US, I have annually attended orphanages together with my family, did service work, and raised funds with my friends for disabled people back home in Uzbekistan. Having come to FIU, I have joined UNICEF at FIU, student-led organization that helps to improve well-being of children across the world, and ICEP, International Community Engagement Project that educates FIU students about global issues and creates opportunities to engage with the community.  In both FIU organizations we did a great range of service work, and I am very blessed to have had various volunteering opportunities that I am beyond grateful for. But this time I wanted to engage in something different from all the experience I had so far, I wanted to try myself in different sphere and step out of my comfort zone. I got lucky to have the Chicken Key Island clean-up at the Deering Estate as a part of my class. I really enjoyed it and felt amazingly connected to the environment, and I expanded my knowledge on the impact of marine debris on the world, and therefore, I could not miss the second chance of volunteering at the same place for mangrove canoe clean-up.


Photo by Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate/ CC BY 4.0

The opportunity of Chicken Key clean-up on the scenic Biscayne Bay was a part of our Miami in Miami Honor’s class. Professor John W. Bailly arranged and organized the clean-up for students. Professor got canoes for the whole class and we were also provided with bags to pick up trash. The second opportunity for mangrove clean-up at the Deering Estate was also a part of our class, and due to the reason that some students were not able to attend the morning session, some of us including me got a chance to spend the whole day at Biscayne Bay and enjoy this amazing opportunity.


-Chicken Key Island Clean-up, Deering Estate:

Photo by Komila Kholmatova at the Chicken Key Island/ CC BY 4.0

On October 14th at 10:00 am, I got to the Deering Estate. As soon as everyone arrived, we were paired by two per each canoe, whoever was experienced enough had to sit at the back of the canoe to direct it and less experienced person had to go in front. I was paired with our Teaching Assistant Nicole, and since I was not confident in canoeing, I went to the front. It was my first time canoeing and collecting marine debris, so I was very excited and scared at the same time. Even though it was a challenging experience and at times we had to push the paddles hard against the waves, with the help of Nicole, we were able to synchronize our movements and safely reach the island.

Once we arrived to the Key, we tied our canoes to a mangrove trees.  I was astonished and sad to see so much plastic was there at the island which . We had four bags that got filled up with trash so quickly. We found so many plastic and glass bottles, flip flops, random small pieces of plastic, containers, crayfish traps, and big blue plastic water container that Nicole saw on the way to the island. Also, we had a small picnic time and we swam in the ocean.

Photo of Komila Kholmatova at the Chicken Key Island. Photo by John. W. Bailly / CC BY 4.0

Fun fact, I held a crab in my hands for the first time in my life, even though I was very scared Professor Bailly calmed me down saying that they are harmless.

After making it back to the departure point, the Deering Estate staff helped us to throw the trash to the needed location. We washed the used bags and helped the staff put the canoes and paddles in place.

Photo by Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate / CC BY 4.0

All in all, we collected 6 canoes of marine debris. Each of us was felt great that we somehow helped to save our environment.

-Mangrove Canoe Clean-up, Deering Estate:

At 9:30 on December 2nd I arrived to the Deering Estate. It was our last class, the great end to the most excellent semester, and my birthday! This time, the experience was different than the previous one since I got a chance to be at the Biscayne Bay for the whole day and attend both morning and afternoon clean-up sessions. I was confident enough to sit at the back of the canoe, and Professor said that we with my partner, Claudia, became experts. We were changing our places with Claudia, she was at the back when we were heading to the mangroves, and I sat at back on the way back to the Estate. In both sessions our canoe was filled up with trash quicker than we expected. Compared to the Chicken Key, mangroves appeared to have a lot more tangled trash.

Photo by Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate / CC BY 4.0

Both of the times I went to clean-up I found the areas that were in their natural state, but unfortunately whenever I looked deeper into the island the was no end to trash that was there.

Having filled all the canoes quickly we headed to the middle of the Bay, far from Chicken Key and mangroves. This moment was one of the best moments of my life. I lay in a canoe full of plastic that we collected, put my hands in the cool water, looked at the sky, and just enjoyed the moment and wanted time to just freeze. There was a feeling that I merged with nature into one. There was complete silence all around, the sun was shining brightly, and the sound of the tide seemed to whisper a lullaby and put Claudia and me to sleep.

Selfie by Komila Kholmatova at the Deering Estate / CC BY 4.0

Professor had to wake us up, and I, full of happiness and emotions, thanked him for the most beautiful and great birthday the one could ask for. Sailing back to Deering Estate, we had about 15 bags of marine debris that we loaded into the cars with the help of the staff. And suddenly, everyone began to sing and wish me a happy birthday. I was very grateful, happy, and glad.


The screenshot taken by Komila Kholmatova of Honors service hours / CC BY 4.0


It was uncommon to each and everyone of us to see how those beautiful and once untouched shores were polluted with marine debris. Despite the difficulties, most of us had to step out of our shell. The clean-up experiences made me aware of my contribution to the ecosystem and gave me a sense of bigger appreciation for our world. I have personally grown from each clean-up and it was something extraordinary that I have never done before. The clean-ups may last only about 5 to 6 hours, but the impact will carry on for much longer. I am blessed to have had such an amazing opportunity, and I believe that if we continue to educate each other and remind ourselves how we can change our environment, our flora and fauna will live forever.


“Miami Museums | Miami Historic Landmarks | The Deering Estate”. Deering Estate, 2020, https://deeringestate.org/.

Komila Kholmatova: Sunny Isles 2020

Photo of Komila Kholmatova at Sunny Isles Beach. Photo by Zakhrakhanum Alieva/ CC BY 4.0


Hello everyone! My name is Komila Kholmatova. I was born in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. I spent half of my childhood in Moscow, Russia and lived there for 6 years. I came to US 2 years ago to study and chase my dreams. I am junior at Honors College at Florida International University. I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in International business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. I really love traveling, getting to know new people, trying new food, painting, and listening to music. My passion for travelling and discovering new places contributed to my decision to take Miami in Miami class and learn more about this beautiful and diverse city. For my Ineffable Miami project, I chose to explore a Sunny Isles Beach city. To learn more about the city read below.


Photo by Komila Kholmatova at Sunny Isles Beach/ CC BY 4.0

The Sunny isles Beach city is a relatively large city located in the north part of Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. Sunny Isles Beach also known as Venice of America. The 124th largest community in Florida, Sunny Isles Beach is two-miles long island that is surrounded with Atlantic Ocean from one side, and bay water from the other. If one would describe the city with two words, they would be private yachts and private beaches.  It is a luxurious and exclusive place that occupied by skyscrapers, great range of restaurants, residential houses, villas, penthouses, parks, and shopping centers.  The unique location of the city makes it easy for people to get to the best stores in South Beach only in 2o minutes and enjoy the mesmerizing energy of the nightlife. The real estate prices in the city are relatively high and start around $500,000. Thus, not many individuals can afford to live there, and whoever do are the lucky ones.

Map of the Sunny Isles Beach from Google Maps


Source: https://www.sibfl.net/announcement/early-sunny-isles-beach/

Even though the city of Sunny Isles Beach seems young, it is rich in history. Years ago the area was not even a city and looked quite different. According to the City of Sunny Isles Beach official website, it all started in 1920, when Harvey Baker Graves bought a land with an aim of developing a resort for tourist. As it was mentioned earlier the city is also known as “Venice od America” and it was H.B. Graves who name it that way. Until 1931 the city was called as North Miami Beach, then until 1997 known as Sunny Isles. The massive constructions continued, and the completion of Haulover bridge in 1925 opened opportunities to the city and made it easy for people to access the city from Miami Beach. Developers and investors started to get interested in the city. That’s how canals were dug to create peninsulas and islands in order to construct first line by water properties on Biscayne Bay. In 1936 Milwaukee industrialist and benefactor, Kurtis Froedtert, bought Sunny Isles. At the head of him, different tourist destinations were built. The one that were most famous ones were The Sunny Isles Pier and the Golden shores area, single family homes, that were built in 1950’s.  From 1950’a to 1970’s there were drastic changes made to the infrastructure of the city. Along the Ocean Palm and Collins Avenue “Motel Row” came to life.  “Motel Row”, the construction of more than 30 motels in the city. The motels were a great source for the city’s prosperity and economic development, and they became the favorite tourist destination for snowbirds all over the world.

1950’s Motel Row. Source: https://www.sibfl.net/announcement/early-sunny-isles-beach/

By the end of nineties, different illegal activities as drug dealing and prostitution were hosted. There was little to no hope for improvement, as infrastructure aged and streets continued to be polluted, code enforcement barely existed. Luckily, community activists came on time to save the area and a council-manager form of governing was established and the area was finally called: The City of Sunny Isles Beach. The population has doubled in numbers, the streets got renovated, magnificent building and beautiful residents rose, and parks got acquired.   From year to year the City has been meeting all the goals that were set by the founders and improving the overall quality of life.


According to US Census Bureau, the population estimates of the Sunny Isles Beach city, Florida has increased for 4.7 % from 2010 and made 21,804 people. The ratio of male and female persons does not have a significant difference, it is only 2% in difference. In terms of age demographics, the leading age of the inhabitants is 65 years, the second teenagers under 18 years, and Children under 5 years, respectively, 24,1 %, 14,0% and 3.7%.  The income level per capita in past 12 months of 2015-2019 was $47,470. Compared to the previous years, it has shown growth for 7.3 % and the median household income has also boosted to $55,350. The White alone percent of residents living in the Sunny Isles Beach city is 91,1%, , Hispanic or Latino percent of residents is 46,0%, White alone, not Hispanic or Latino percent is 47,5%, and smaller percentages of residents living in the city include Black or African alone and Asian alone races, respectively, 2.9% and 2,5%.

Interview with Zakhrakhanum(Zara) Alieva, Resident of the Sunny Isles Beach City, Florida:

Photo of Zakhrakhanum Alieva by Karthshen/ CC BY 4.0

Zakhrakhanum Alieva is junior at Florida International University and she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication.

Komila: Where are you from, and how long have you been living in Sunny Isles Beach City?

Zara: I am from Samarkand, Uzbekistan. I became resident of Sunny Isles Becah City 6 years ago in 2014.

Komila: Why did you choose to live in this area?

Zara: I chose this place because it is the place where I got independent and learnt how to be on my own. And it has the most beautiful views and close to the ocean.

Komila: What is your favorite and least favorite aspect od Sunny Isles Beach City?

Zara: My favorite aspect of the city is the resemblance of it with my hometown. People are very nice and they have a sense of community, and there are so many places, stores and restaurants that make me feel comfortable and create warm atmosphere.  The least favorite aspect is traffic, it creates tension and causes aggression.

Komila: What is your favorite memory made here in Sunny Isles?

Zara: The day when I got married to the love of my life.

Komila: How would you describe the residents of Sunny Isles?

Zara: I like them. They are very nice and hospitable people that are always willing to help. Also, most of the residents in here speak Russian, which is another aspect of resemblance with my home that I like.

Komila: If you could change something in the area what would it be?

Zara: I would keep everything the same and try not to overbuild the infrastructure and I would emphasize and preserve the culture heritage.


Sunny Isles Beach

Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

The best thing about the city of Sunny Isles Beach is the beach itself. Most of the tourist come to visit the city just for the beach. The area around the coastline is very famous among celebrities, and most of them own houses and villas in the city. Older population usually come to retard and spend the rest of their life in paradise of the Sunny Isles. The location of the beach is very convenient for tourist since most of the hotels and restaurants are lined with the beach itself. Warm weather for the whole year, swimming in the Atlantic ocean, and sitting back in the sand  are the most enjoyable things that tourist come for to the beach

Collins Avenue, Florida

Source: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock, Collins Avenue/ CC BY 4.0

Collins Avenue is the most famous and main street that lies at the center of the Sunny Isles Beach. It is a heart of the city. The Avenue is a home not only for high rise apartments, beautiful resorts, and hotels, but also for city shops. The Collins Avenue is surrounded by the beach from one side and the Intracoastal waterway from another. By taking a walk only for an hour, one will be able to discover the whole Avenue with all its beauty and dynamics within.

St Bernard de Clairvaux Church, 16711 Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160

Source: Mariusz Lopusiewicz / shutterstock

Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux

The St Bernard de Clairvaux is a fascinating Church with the historical architecture of the 12th century. Located in Sunny Isles Church was built in the town of Segovia and brought to Florida in the beginning of 20th century. It is a local extraordinary piece that worth seeing at least ones.


Samson Oceanfront Park, 17425 Collins Avenue

Source: sibfl.net/parks.

The Samson Oceanfront Park was named after Gilbert Samson. The area of the park is 2.1-acres. It is a public park open to community with its natural resources and recreational sites. The park receives funds from the “Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 Program,” and from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s, “Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program”, and creates facilities for people. By following the specific guidelines and restrictions resident are welcome to enjoy the park from 7am- 8pm daily.

Heritage Park, 19200 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

Source: City of Sunny Isles Beach Government / Facebook

Heritage Park

The Heritage Park located in the opposite end side of Collins Avenue. Even though the area of the park is not as large as other parks, it pleases residents with its green and lovely open place  that includes several memorials dedicated to local heroes who served for US across the world in the armed forces.

Pelican Community Park, 18115 North Bay Road

Source: sibfl.net/parks

The Pelican Community Park opening ceremony took place on August 23rd 2008. For almost 12 years the park have been working hard and creating various opportunities for the well-being of the residents, including community involvement, learning and educational activities. The park partners with Norman S. Edelcup Sunny Isles Beach K-8 School, and has a special Community center with study rooms, camps, after-school programs and fitness centers that are open for both children and adults. The park operates from 8:30 am – 9:00 pm on Mondays to Saturdays, and from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm on Sundays.


There are various types of transportation in the Sunny Isles Beach city. Transportation ranges from affordable to expensive one, and even free one, which makes it convenient for the different income rage community.

One can find:

Shuttle Routes

The Shuttle Service is provided for the City is free  of charge and it works 7 days per week. There are 3 lines(Orange1, Orange2, Blue) working at the same time for the comfort of the residents and tourists.

Mount Sinai Transportation Services

It is another transportation that one can enjoy a free ride from but the only thing to keep in mind is to be early in the place and that children under 12 are not allowed to ride without an adult, since times are arranged on an approximate level because of traffic. No pets, no food, no alcohol is permitted during the ride. The SIBshuttle provides transportation to Mount Sinai Miami Beach. The rides are available through appointments only that are made by calling 305.792.1706.

Miami-Dade Transit Service

Miami-Dade Transit buses provide rides for the community in Sunny Isles Beach. Buses make stops on the Routes S, H, E and 12o Beach Max. For additional information of schedules and services, go to www.miamidade.gov/transit.

Additionally, residents and travelers can use taxi apps like Uber and Lift that are relatively higher in price.


Chayhana Oasis, 250 Sunny Isles Blvd, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

Source: www.chayhanaoasis.com

When I first came to Miami, I did not know that I would be able to find my hometown food in here. Surprisingly, there was one. Chayhana Oasis is an Uzbek Restaurant that serves an Uzbek Cuisine in Miami. Back home there’s a hilarious saying: “If you have not tried Uzbek Pilaf what is the reason of your existence in the world”. It is a colorful and lively restaurant that has a comfortable and unique cultural environment.  I would personally recommend going to and of course trying our national food. My favorite ones are lamb kebab and pilaf.

Mozart Cafe: Kosher Restaurant

Mozart Café is one of the best Kosher restaurants that introduces Israeli cuisine to its customers. They have a fantastic menu and exceptional service. The menu varies from sushi to falafels, ravioli and lasagnas. I went there during the breakfast and had eggs benedict and I am definitely going back.

Old Samovar, 18220 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160-2727

Old Samovar, is a Russian restaurant that pleases its guest with it cozy atmosphere and nice homemade food like blini, olivye salad, borsht and etc. It is a place where you will not feel alone but included. It is like you are invited to a party of old friends. The place also has karaoke but only in Russian but if you do not know the language there should be no worries since it is eased to catch the beat of the music. Since I grow up eating Russian food, I really love the place, my favorite Russian food is borsht and that’s what I ordered when I went there.


When one thinks of Miami, they imagine luxurious and exotic place with a crazy nightlife and yearlong warm weather with a beach, such as Sunny Isles Beach city. I am glad that I chose this neighborhood that is reach both in history and culture. I learned and discovered new places that I have not been to yet, and food that I have not tasted. With beautiful and mesmerizing infrastructure that includes hotels, motels, skyscrapers, centers for academic and recreational services, Sunny Isles continues to impress people and create the best life for the community’s well-being. I believe that as history once started for this city to be a tourist resort, it will continue to attract people from all over the world and be the dream place to visit and live.


“Early Sunny Isles Beach – City Of Sunny Isles Beach”. City Of Sunny Isles Beach, 2020, https://www.sibfl.net/announcement/early-sunny-isles-beach/.

“U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Sunny Isles Beach City, Florida”. Census Bureau Quickfacts, 2020, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sunnyislesbeachcityflorida/BZA115218.

Beach, Sunny. “Sunny Isles Beach – The Beacon Council”. The Beacon Council, 2020, https://www.beaconcouncil.com/why-miami-dade/cities/sunny-isles-beach/.

Top Companies In Sunny Isles. 2020, https://www.glassdoor.com/Explore/top-companies-sunny-isles-beach_IL.14,31_IC1166211.htm. Accessed 14 Dec 2020.

Komila Kholmatova: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Photo taken of Komila Kholmatova in 2020. Photo by Violetta Rudenski/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

Hello everyone! My name is Komila Kholmatova. I was born and raised in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. I came to US 2 years ago to study and chase my dreams. I am a part of Honors College at Florida International University. I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in International business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. In the future I hope to run my own business and create my brand. I really love traveling, getting to know new people, trying new food, painting and listening to music. My passion for travelling and discovering new places contributed to my decision to take Miami in Miami class and learn more about this beautiful and diverse city.

Deering as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Deering Estate. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Deering Estate, 2 September 2020.

Yes, maybe I am alien to this land but there is something that unites us all, and this is the very land, the rich history of our ancestors, and their lived lives that lie in this land. Arriving from a distant country of Uzbekistan, I was able to find something native on this land, which not only surprised me but pleased me – Islamic details on the architecture of the buildings. At that moment I felt some kind of warmth inside as if the place smiled and warmly greeted me. I think each of us felt this but in our own way because the land on which we stood, the land of the Deering Estate, the land of Miami, is so diverse, rich in history, rich in resources, unique nature, and most importantly warm in an atmosphere that everyone can feel and find it like a home. I felt connected and I tried to live through history as Professor J.W. Bailly told us.

We were imbued with history through ancient tools that once helped our ancestors to survive, we crossed and hiked through 5 landmarks: Endangered Pine Rock land, Mangroves, Tequesta Midden, Tropical Forest, and River. We walked on the water and were lucky enough to find the pieces of an unmarked crashed plane.

Even though we faced some difficulties during the hiking, like angry mosquitoes or hot burning weather, the Deering Estate and its mesmerizing atmosphere, and irresistible beauty did not make me regret a second but on the other hand made me definitely come back again!

South Beach as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in South Beach. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/
CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at South Beach, 16 September 2020.

On March 26, 1915, one hundred and five years ago, Miami Beach was officially incorporated as a new city by 33 registered voters. Today, when one thinks of Miami, they primarily imagine the city not as a financial or cultural center but as a tourist resort of South Beach. They picture an incredible number of hotels, restaurants, and other infrastructure in Art Deco Architecture Style that now is a state-protected monument. However, it is not the only good picture that has shaped the Beach’s history. In addition to good times, there were hard times that built the character of the place.

Miami Beach has a vivid history of crime, racism, corruption and economic fall. Back in 1870, Miami Beach was a mangrove ridge and sandbar that was not inhabitable. 

One can say that John S.Collins and Karl Fisher were the founding fathers of Miami Beach. It was these businessmen from the northeastern United States who saw the potential in the small southern agricultural town to make it a world-class resort. They came to the city around the end of the 19th century to buy a coconut plantation from Henry Lum and son Charles, and start looking for fresh water. The plans were to assess the scale of work and possible profits from this adventure.

Collins was an experienced business man and began selling plots of land on a completely unsettled island. He invested his earnings in bringing sand and reclaiming the island, resulting in more land for sale. The unexpected fact for me was that much of South Florida was built on a swampland and that laborers had to clear out the mangroves and fill it with soil to create land. While one founding father was in the business of selling the island, the other, Karl Fischer, organized a major hotel building. Hotels and restaurants for wealthy people began to appear, and all this required human resources. In the period from 1923 to 1943, the southern part of Miami Beach experienced a real construction boom, the Art Deco architectural style appeared, that made the entire South Beach was built. Laborers were cheaply exploited,  and subjected to high heat and mosquitoes. It wasn’t only laborers who suffered there were Blacks who could not buy any land during this developing time and there was social discrimination against Jewish. 

In 1930, the city became the winter residence of many mobsters from New York and Chicago, including the famous Al Capone. During Prohibition, Miami Beach was the center for the production and sale of alcohol. Nice cars drove through the streets, men smoked cigars, women danced in cabarets. It was the golden age of Miami Beach that we see in black and white gangster movies. Gradually, due to the emerging importance of Miami as an emerging cargo port, it became necessary to deepen the bay. The soil, which was raised from the seabed, was used to dump artificial islands on which higher construction. This is how the Venetian Islands, Star Island, Palm and Hibiscus Islands, Fisher Island and other islands in the northern part of Miami Beach appeared. Now the houses located on these islands are among the most expensive properties in the city.

The situation began to change in the 90s, and not only in South Beach, but in Miami itself. The money made by selling drugs had to be legalized and gradually they began to be invested again in construction. For 20 years, downtown Miami has experienced a real construction boom, while Miami Beach has experienced a renovation boom.

 Now there are almost no unreconstructed hotels in Miami Beach, both in the southern part of it and in the north. It was during this time that Collins ave, Ocean Drive and Flamingo Park were rebuilt, Lummus and South Point parks, pedestrian zones on Lincoln Road and Espanola Way were built. But earlier these were ordinary streets, with small cheap eateries and second-hand clothing stores. However, a large-scale construction unfolded in the northern part of Miami Beach, in the areas of Bal Harbor and Sunny Isles. Here, in just a few years, whole streets of residential skyscrapers with magnificent ocean views have grown. Who would have thought that once a swampland would turn into one of the world’s famous and diverse tourist destinations? 

Work Cited:

Munzenrieder, K., 2015. 100 Years: The Dark And Dirty History Of Miami Beach. [online] Miami New Times. Available at: <https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169&gt; [Accessed 20 September 2020].

Downtown Miami as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Downtown. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Downtown, 30 September 2020.

Downtown is a place where liveliness and color emanate from everywhere. This place is considered as the business and central part of Miami. Downtown is also called the heart of Miami, as it is home to skyscrapers, fashionable structures, shopping malls, cultural institutions, and green spaces.

Downtown’s contrast includes wealthy and posh neighborhoods, it is home to major financial institutions and trade conglomerates, as well as various small streets. Downtown is a mix of luxury and urban architecture, where the villas of the world’s most influential and famous people are considered a local landmark.

Also, one can find various sightseeing, like:

Adrienne Arsht Center, a large performing arts center that hosts daily shows, musicals and children’s plays.

The Miami-Dade County Courthouse is located at 73 West Flagler Street. The Miami-Dade Courthouse is still in use today as the central civil court. Initially, court hearings and pre-trial detention cells were held here. The cameras were located on the upper floors. It was assumed that it was impossible to escape from such a height. But a series of high-profile escapes from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse disproved that claim. The inmates escaped using a fire hose and other ingenious devices. More than 70 shoots were recorded in total.

Freedom Tower– is one of the first skyscrapers in the United States, built in 1925. The Freedom Tower in Miami is made in a unique synthetic modern style, successfully combining features of late classicism, American Art Nouveau, striking motifs of Spanish architecture – all note a visual similarity with the famous Giralda Tower in Spanish Seville. According to history, the skyscraper served as a registration and distribution center for refugees from Cuba. Here they distributed medical care, listened to horror stories that refugees told in order to obtain citizenship.

 Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum – a science museum with an observatory and planetarium.

 History Miami – Museum of history, as well as the Perez Art Museum with an incredibly huge collection of exhibits. In the art gallery, tourists have the opportunity to get acquainted with the works of the brush as well-known artists, including Mendieta, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Stella, and their contemporary younger colleagues. The know-how of this museum is the occasional interactive events, as well as themed music and entertainment evenings.

The history of Downtown Miami is inseparable from the past of the resort itself. Before the arrival of the Europeans at the beginning of the 16th century, and the first of them were the Spanish conquistadors, the Indian tribes of Miami lived here, later giving their name to the area, as well as the Seminoles, who moved to these regions from the northern states. The first European settlers began to settle in these parts already in the 1800s, gradually ousting the indigenous people. The wealthiest of them immediately started buying up orange plantations and investing in urban planning and the construction of a railway line. Miami began to develop rapidly, which was greatly facilitated by the miraculous climate of these places: winter and summer temperatures practically do not differ and remain at the level of 30 degrees. At the end of the 19th century, it was given city status.

Chicken Key as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Chicken Key Island. Photo by Komila Kholmatova, Nicole Patrick/CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Chicken Key, 14 September 2020.

From all the trips we had been to, this trip was the most memorable and unlike the others. The trip to Chicken Key Island was a combination of usefulness and pleasantness.

Usefulness, because our group, led by our Professor, made our world a little better by cleaning the ocean from marine debris. We collected 6 canoes of sea garbage, which included plastic bottles, rubber slippers, pieces of glass, cellophane bags,and  a lot more things including a large barrel that Nicole saw, and by working in a group, we pulled it out of the water and sat in the canoe. 

It’s a shame that people are so careless about nature. Unfortunately, plastic is a global problem. Billions of plastic bags and single-use bottles are used worldwide every year. The inhabitants of the Earth use almost one million plastic bottles every minute! But only less than a quarter of household plastic is recycled. Plastic overflows landfills, chokes rivers and lakes, pollutes the oceans, and harms wild animals. I was very happy and proud that we helped our world and made it a better place, and I hope everyone will take an example from us and contribute to the cleaning of marine debris, or at least be vigilant and not pollute the ecosystem.

Pleasantness, because each of us had the opportunity to merge with nature, spent hours listening to the ocean and enjoy the beauty of it, see pelicans, crabs, fish and other marine life. If someone had told me in the past that I would cross the ocean and swim to the island, I would not have believed it. But today, after going through this, swimming to the Chicken key island, I believe that nothing is impossible and that all fears are surmountable. Fortunately, I was very lucky because I was with a wonderful partner, Nicole, who is much more experienced than me, and it  gave me peace of mind. I have never had such an experience and I will remember it forever. Through this lesson, I not only enrich my worldview and learn more about Miami, but I also get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fears.

Bakehouse as Text


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Bakehouse, 1 November 2020

We got lucky to be a part of the amazing project “Future Pacific”, a clay-pressing workshop, which took place at  Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood. Even though there are not so many ways to save corals and reefs, there are artists like Lauren Shapiro, who encourage our community to fight for environmental change and raise awareness of the climate stressors that influence ecosystems of coral reefs. The workshop was informative and we all had so much fun and enjoyed ourselves by making clay corals and reefs by inserting pieces of clay into silicone molds. I really liked the whole process, especially sculpting corals, as well as attaching them to the installation itself using liquid clay, which was used instead of glue. I really love art and everything connected with it.  Art inspires us and opens up new colors of the world, just like in our workshop, art encourages us to do good deeds that make the world a better place.

At the end of the workshop, some of the students including me got interviewed about the way they felt about the project. One of the questions that stood out to me was: What are three words that describe the project to you? – Love, Care, Hope.

We love our world, we care about it and hope that we will be able to save it.

Rubell as Text


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Rubell, 18   November 2020

On November 18th I was able to witness the contemporary art part of Miami, Rubell Museum. Don and Mera Rubell continue to raise the contemporary art rate in Miami by sharing the valuable collection that they have amassed over the past 50 years. Formerly known as the Rubell Family Collection Museum occupies a new space in the Allapattah neighborhood, not far from its original 25 year old home in Wynwood Art Harbor. The Museum debuted during Art Basel 2019. This seems apt as the couple played a key role in attracting Miami’s famous art fair. 

We were able to browse 40 galleries filled with 300 works by 100 artists.  The experience in each gallery was different, with a good balance of intimate and expansive galleries, featuring art from key artists, moments and movements.

The most memorable work that caught my attention was “Infinity Mirrored Room,-Let’s Survive Forever,2017” by Yayoi Kusama’s.  Due to the virus, guests were not allowed to access the room but we as a class enjoyed the minute. Thanks to our professor, we were lucky enough to immerse ourselves in Yayoi Kusama’s exciting work. Entering the room, I felt as if I had fallen into another dimension, I felt a little dizzy and speechless from the incredible beauty.  

We have also seen groundbreaking work from the likes of Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Jeff Koons.  Works as “New Hoover Convertible” Plexiglas vacuum cleaner from Koons;  “Movie Still # 21” One of Sherman’s most recognizable black and white photographs;  and the famous Prince’s Cowboy series.

If before I used to judge contemporary art as we judge the book by its cover, now I look at contemporary art from a different perspective and I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for it thanks to this class. Art gives freedom of speech and it has a deep meaning and message behind every piece.

Everglades as Text

Everglades National Park, Miami, FL. Photo of Everglades by Komila Kholmatova. Photo of Komila by Professor J.W. Bailly / CC BY 4.0.


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Everglades, 24 January 2021.

On January 20th we started our first and most waited class of Spring semester in a very significant place of southern Florida – Everglades National Park.

Everglades is 1.5 million acres large home to a myriad endangered and rare species of flora and fauna. It is a very significant place that is considered as part of UNESCO World Heritage and Wetland of International Importance.

We met together with the Professor Bailly and the park’s Ranger Ms. Dillan at the entrance of the park and drove approximately 12 miles into the park. It was suggested to all of us to wear water shoes, since we were going to slough slogging. Before that, I did not know what slough slogging means, it means walking through the water.

 As we arrived at the destination, ranger Dillan gave everyone sticks that were meant to help us to figure out the depth of the water before taking a step. Ready for the journey, we plunged into the water, which turned out to be a little colder than I expected. Full of fear and anticipation of bites of mosquitos, snakes, and crocodiles I continued my way. But with every step taken, the water grew warmer and the fear diminished.

Since it was a dry season the ranger Dillan said that due to the low level of the water and noises that we were making by walking, all the animals would be hiding in more quiet places, thus we did not see any animals in the water apart from tiny mosquito eating fishes. We learnt about various plants that were growing in the river, we reached the alligator hole, we jumped through the muddy holes, we became aware of the history of Everglades and we had a lot of fun, even though for me personally it was extreme environment that I would never have witnessed if not at this class.

The most memorable parts for me were listening to a poem in the middle of Everglades and taking a minute of silence to stay quiet, so we can hear and feel the sounds of the nature. I also enjoyed having a socially distant lunch after slogging and stopping at little farm called “Robert is here” after class for milkshakes.

Wynwood as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in the Locust Projects. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Wynwood, Locust Projects, 3rd February 2021.

Having entered the doors of Locust Project I was transformed into a magical space with a unique atmosphere that was wrapped into golden leaf flakes and painted canvases. It was an immersive installation “Made by Dusk” by Mette Tommerup that evoked in me those peculiar feelings. 

If the aim of any installation is to change the focus of the viewer from the visual appearance of a piece to its conceptual idea behind, the “Made by Dusk” piece was able to do so. Our class was plunged into the different meanings of the installation. 

The large-scale installation is intended to open a fresh start to the visitors and surround them with enchanting, and unearthly space made by dusk. The artist Ms.Tomerrup was inspired by Freya, the goddess of love, beauty, gold, war and metamorphosis. She described the work as a “liberating self “, which can be seen through the different elements like video projected on the wall where she was in the process of creating the installation, through deep physical manifestation of the canvases and other objects.  The installation also has a healing potential that makes viewers to have a pause and rethink between the moment of the day and night when time seems to stop.

Before I had very limited knowledge in art but on this day both Professor J.W. Bailly and Ms. Tommerup gave us a deeper understanding on the different concepts of art and completely reinterpreted the whole art world for each of us. The installation is a must visit if you are in Miami and want to be blown away by both art and inspirational artist, because we all did! 

Bill Baggs as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.o


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 17 February 2021.

On February 17th, our class explored Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and did a service work. The area where the park is located – Key Biscayne surrounded by Malaysian coconut palms is a part of the coastline of Florida and even though it is named as a Key, it is not a Key it is an island. Rich in history, flora and fauna the island witnessed variety of events.

One thing that caught my attention most from all during our adventure was a Cape Florida lighthouse that was built in 1825 by U.S Government. It is not just a lighthouse that is intended for lighting but it is a lighthouse with a touching history that survived the Seminoles attack in 1836, saved lives, and was of a great importance to the underground railroads. The lighthouse did survive the explosion, and was rebuilt 2 times later by government and increased in height. Today, the lighthouse is about 95 feet of length with a top and 190 steps up if you take stairs.

We also learnt that Tequestas were the first people that lived and settled those areas but we cannot call them pioneers, since it would be considered as erasing history that was before that.

We also met raccoons family and I fed them for the first time in my life with snack we brought, and we learnt that they might bite people and transfer different disease.

We finished our class with a volunteering at the sensitive site of Bill Baggs Park and enjoyed the rest of the time by swimming. It was an amazing experience thanks to the Ranger Shane Zigler  and our Professor who made it all possible.

River of Grass as Text 

Miami in Miami of FIU at the Everglades. Photo of Komila Kholmatova by J.W. Bailly/ CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at the Everglades, 5 March 2021.

No matter how many times you have been to Everglades every time you visit it you will be flabbergasted by its captivating, uninhabited and mysterious landscape. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas said that  “There are no other Everglades in the world”.  And as nature admirers and Miami explorers each and everyone of us in our class can assure you that it is an undeniable truth.

We did not get enough of Everglades during our previous class, so we came back to learn more about this mysterious river of grass.  If it would not be M.S. Douglas, who is known for her incredible contribution to the defense of Everglades, the American Indians who lived there  and all other advocates who understood, protected and preserved  the Everglades best, our class and the rest of the world might not have been able to see and discover those lands.

We started our class by dry hiking together with ranger Dylan. We learned how people, plants and animals impact the unique ecosystem of the Everglades. Also, I learned a new term, a trophic cascade, which describes all the interactions that control the ecosystem. An example for that would be a food chain, if a predator eats another organism, and may, in turn be eaten by something else. Everything in our ecosystem is interconnected, thus we cannot just get rid of any species. For instance, getting rid of raccoons might cause the invasion of iguanas and damage the cycle of nature by causing more eventual problems.

We also visited the Nike Missile Site and got transferred to the past. We felt the Cold War atmosphere and imagined how hard it was to our predecessors defend attacks from the Soviet Union.

Our class finished with the most beautiful sunset that one can imagine and unforgettable memories that each of us will keep in mind forever!

Frost as Text

Patricia & Phillip Frost Miami, FL. Photo by Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0.


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, 17 March 2021

Each museum has a purpose as to educate, store and exhibit various objects that have cultural, historical, artistic or scientific values. The more attention is received towards the exhibitions the more awareness is raised for particular topics. Yet, according to the previous experiences of most museums and other historical, and cultural institutions the most attention is received for controversial works that include politics, religion and sexuality or in other words nudity. Miami-Dade public schools do not let children watch such works for psychological reasons and because of an arbitrary limit of the age, which for the majority of museums is 18.

When we toured the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, we learned that such works that draw most of the attention of the individuals are not allowed to be shown to students and thus, arise difficulties in getting attention for the rest objects in most museums.

Another important highlight of the museum tour that we learned is the influence of curators. Curators are the managers of the art pieces and they have almost the same, equal, and sometimes bigger influence than an artist to impact the viewers perspectives. Even though their goal is to represent the art with respect and all the thorough details, sometimes they can misinterpret the work by taking too much liberty and forget the originality, no matter how hard they try. For example, if the artist was disorganized but his or her work might be organised and not knowing such details the representation of the work in the exhibition might cause misinterpretation. But of course, sometimes curators do not have such details because of the lack of information.

The thought provoking exhibition by Roberto Obregon indeed provoked different ideas in each of our minds. Not without reason, the work of Obregon is considered to be conceptual art, since it evokes unique perceptions for each individual. One might say that the focus was the various representations of the rose, while the other would say it was the repetition of elements, and none of them would be incorrect since the idea of conceptual art is not the physical object but the meaning behind it.

The obsession of Obregon to roses captivated me and reminded me of my childhood obsession in making herbariums of various flowers that I used to gather in the clearing near my house. We all have our own obsessions, and we might or might not want to share them and I think seeing one of Obregon’s in a museum will help people to not be scared of criticism of society by having one. 

Another meaning that I associated with rose when the curator asked us was feminism. I imagined that a rose is a beautiful, strong and independent woman. As Professor mentioned, one can be tempted by her beauty but can get hurt by her thorns; by her I thought both rose and a woman. 

Coral Gables as Text

Coral Gables, Miami, Fl. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova at FIU at Coral Gables, 31 March 2021

On March 31st our class toured the Coral Gables-one the most beautiful and rich in history cities located in the southwest of Downtown Miami. We had a chance to explore the Coral Gables Museum, along with the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ   and the Miracle Mile.

As local residents refer to it, the Gables was one of the first planned communities in the US developed by George Merrick during Florida’s first real estate bubble in the 1920s. At our tour in the museum we learnt that Merrick had inherited vegetable, guava, grapefruit, avocado farm from his family, and in 1922 started to evolve the land into the City of Coral Gables. The architecture of the city is almost fully in Tropical Mediterranean Style or also known as Mediterranean Revival Style.

Merrick had a dream of beautiful “castles in Spain” while having dark lonely rides  to town to sell vegetables. He worked hard to make his dreams reality and one day instead of empty lands he saw a thousand houses. Even though the Great Depression and the great hurricanes in the Roaring Twenties caused severe financial difficulties to Merrick, he still was able to see the reaped benefits of his hard work.

After the museum tour, we visited the centerpiece of the Coral Gables – enormous Biltmore Hotel that was built by G. Merrick in 1926 and designed by Schultz and Weaver. The hotel was not always a hotel; it also served as a military hospital during WWII, and after the end of the war it remained to be a hospital for veterans until 1968. The Coral Gables got the building in 1983 and invested $55 million. The hotel was renovated to glory in 1987 and opened to the public.

We finished our class by visiting the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ. The land for the church was donated by G. Merrick in the memory of his father Solomon G. Merrick. It was designed by Richard Kiehnel and considered as an ideal instance of Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style.  Today, the Church not only serves as a place of worship but also encourages youngsters to pursue musical and artistic talents.

Vizcaya as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Photo by Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0.


By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 14 April 2021

On a special day for all of us, April 14th, the last class of Miami in Miami, we went to visit the most beautiful place in Miami – Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  

Vizcaya will always hold a special place in my heart because it is the first sightseeing location I visited when I arrived for studying in Miami and I could not resist its beauty and unique architectural style. It is a place where Miami started for me, and historically Vizcaya actually represents the end of the beginning of Miami.

The Villa Vizcaya came to its glorifying existence thanks to the idea of James Deering, and the art of Paul Chalfin.  The mansion was built as a place of protection of flora and fauna, the local landscape conservation, and as a house of freedom and escape. Behind the incredible beauty of Vizcaya lies the hard work of Bahamian and indigenous people, whose labor weren’t always recognized. 

Vizcaya welcomes its guests as if it is a mirage in the middle of the desert but in reality it is a magical Villa covered in the tropical landscape curtains wearing Mediterranean architecture style dress along with the mixture of Italian and Spanish details. As you enter Vizcaya you can feel the hedonisms, power, wealth, unusual energy and glory that had a huge impact on the style of the mansion as on the cultural identity of Miami itself.

The Roman God of wine and ecstasy, Bacchus, greets you as you enter the Villa from the west entrance loggia which used to be a back door. As you walk into the patio you almost get blinded by the lights of the sun that are coming through the window ceiling and making the room magically golden and bright. Before Villa became a museum, there were no windows at the doors and the ceiling and you could feel the fresh breeze coming from the Biscayne Bay and ventilating the whole mansion.

Walking from room to room, from room to the majestic garden in the Villa, it feels like you are traveling through different dimensions of eras and architectural styles, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, from the Mediterranean style to Rococo, from the 80s to the times of the Great Gatsby, what could be better than everything altogether?  Only Vizcaya!

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