Maria Bracamonte: Miami as Text Spring 2023

Photograph taken by  Angle platform /CC by 4.0

Maria Bracamonte is a junior majoring in Business Administration in Finance with a minor in Business Analytics at the Florida International University. She aspires to develop her expertise in the field to combat the scarcity of financial knowledge and advises others to make smart monetary decisions. However, her long-term career goal is to build a company that allows her to give back to the community and offer growth opportunities to minorities in this country. She values academic excellence, community services, and involvement. She has completed more than two hundred hours of services in her community and has participated in and led multiple organizations. She is an active member of the Phoenician Investment Fund, and she is also part of the Honors College Program at FIU. She is passionate about arts, with more than ten years of experience in performing arts: dance and theater. Likewise, she has great admiration for photography, cinema, music, literature, and painting.

Miami Encounter as Text

“Second Home” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU on January 29, 2023.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

When I first moved to Miami three years ago, I was unsure of what to expect, and I was afraid of how much my life was about to change. I visited Miami a couple of times before permanently moving here, but I did not know every single part of Miami. I knew about the beautiful beaches, the warm weather, and the diversity, but I was not sure if it would feel like home. I was not familiar with its history or culture, and in terms of the image that Miami conjures in my mind, it was a vibrant and bustling city with a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic architecture. Some of the parts of Miami that I was most familiar with include South Beach, Little Havana, and the Miami Design District.

However, learning about this city was essential to me for a variety of reasons. First, it will allow me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the place I will now call home. This understanding can come in the form of knowledge about the history, culture, and current events of the city. By learning about the origins and evolution of the city, I can gain a sense of identity and pride in the community. Furthermore, learning about one’s city can also lead to a greater sense of civic engagement and responsibility. When individuals have a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing their community, they are more likely to take an active role in addressing them. Therefore, being part of the Miami in Miami class was the perfect opportunity to fulfill this goal.

Thanks to my involvement in this class, I discovered that Miami is a city rich in history, dating back to the early thousands of years with indigenous tribes and the 1800s when American and European pioneers first settled it and build the city with the labor of Caribbeans. Miami’s culture is heavily influenced by its large population of immigrants, particularly those from Latin America and the Caribbean. This has led to the development of a unique blend of cultures and traditions, which can be seen in the city’s food, music, and art. The city is also a popular tourist destination, known for its beaches, nightlife, and attractions such as the Everglades and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

From its early days as a small village to its present-day status as a major metropolis, Miami has undergone many changes and played a significant role in shaping the culture and identity of South Florida. As someone interested in exploring the city’s history, and as for my expectations of class this semester, I hope to keep learning more about the people, places, and events that have shaped Miami over the years.

One of the things that I am particularly interested in is discovering the lesser-known places and landmarks that have had a significant impact on the city. While Miami is home to many famous landmarks such as South Beach and Little Havana, many hidden gems are often overlooked. For example, the historic Overtown neighborhood was once a thriving African American community and home to many prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement. I believe that by exploring these lesser-known places and learning about the stories of the people who have lived and worked there, I can gain a deeper understanding of Miami’s history and appreciate the city in a new way.

In conclusion, Miami has become a second home for me, and it has allowed me to grow and find a sense of belonging that I did not have before. I have become a part of the community, and I have developed a deep appreciation for the culture and traditions of Miami. I cannot wait to see what other places are out there to be discovered in this vibrant and exciting city.

Everglades as Text

“Discovering the Everglades: A Transformative Journey” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at The Everglades on January 18, 2023.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Before visiting the Everglades, my understanding of the area was limited to its reputation as a unique and important wetland ecosystem in the United States. I knew that it was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which meant that it was recognized as an exceptional example of an ecosystem that was worth preserving for future generations. I had a basic understanding of the Everglades as a vast and diverse area that included a mix of freshwater and saltwater habitats, as well as a rich array of plant and animal species.

However, my understanding of the Everglades changed significantly after visiting the area. During the visit, I was struck by the size and complexity of the ecosystem, which extends from Lake Okeechobee in the north to Florida Bay in the south. I was also struck by the diversity of habitats and species that are found in the Everglades, from the lush sawgrass marshes to the mangrove forests and pine rocklands.

One of the most interesting things I learned about the Everglades was the unique hydrology of the area, which is driven by the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee through the region. This flow of water supports a wide range of plant and animal communities, including the wading birds that are so characteristic of the Everglades. I was also impressed by the role that the Everglades plays in supporting the ecology of South Florida, as well as the important role it plays in recharging the Biscayne Aquifer, which provides fresh water to the region.

Despite the importance of the Everglades, I learned that the area has been under threat from a variety of human activities. These activities have disrupted the natural flow of water in the region, causing harm to the ecosystem and threatening the survival of many plant and animal species. However, I was also encouraged by the efforts of local communities and organizations to protect and restore the Everglades. These efforts include the creation of protected areas, such as Everglades National Park, as well as the restoration of critical habitats, such as the mangrove forests and pine rocklands.

My visit to the Everglades provided a transformative experience, one where I was able to disconnect from the bustling chaos of daily life and reconnect with the stillness of nature. The still waters of the slough mirrored the essence of our own being, as I came to understand that like the water, we too can be disturbed by the turbulence of life, but when in a state of calm, we can attain a sense of clarity and peace. This realization emphasized the importance of preserving these precious environments, for they offer not only an escape from the outside world, but also a chance for personal renewal. I left the Everglades with a newfound appreciation for the transformative power of nature and a commitment to preserving its beauty for future generations.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

In conclusion, my visit to the Everglades was a transformative experience that helped me to understand the importance of this unique and fragile ecosystem. While there are still many challenges to overcome in protecting and restoring the Everglades, I was inspired by the efforts of those working to protect this exceptional and important area. I believe that by continuing to educate the public and support conservation efforts, we can ensure that the Everglades remains a vital and thriving ecosystem for generations to come.

Coconut Grove as Text

“Exploring the Oldest City” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Coconut Grove on February 12, 2023.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Before my visit to Coconut Grove, my idea of this neighborhood was that it was a rich and upscale area that attracted the wealthy and famous. I imagined it to be a place filled with expensive shops, luxurious homes, and a vibrant nightlife. However, after visiting Coconut Grove, my understanding of the neighborhood changed dramatically. I was surprised to learn that about its rich history that dates back to the 1800s. It was once a separate city and is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhoods of Miami.

The neighborhood was once a small fishing village and was home to working-class Bahamian immigrants that became financially stable and gave back to the community. I was also impressed by the cultural institutions in Coconut Grove, such as the Coconut Grove Playhouse, which has a rich history of hosting performances by local and national artists. The neighborhood is also home to the Plymouth Congregational Church, which was build by one man and it serves as a gathering place for residents.

Likewise, another thing that surprised me during our visit was the diversity of the architecture in the neighborhood, which includes a mix of historic and modern buildings. It is a sorrowful truth that the original community of Coconut Grove has been displaced and that modern buildings are being erected in the neighborhood, erasing its rich history and cultural heritage. As I walked through the streets of Coconut Grove, I was struck by the contrast between the old and the new. The historic homes, schools, and churches that were once the center of the community’s cultural and artistic life were now surrounded by gigantic mansions and modern buildings.

It is unfortunate that the history of Coconut Grove is being erased and that its rich cultural heritage is being lost. The displacement of the original community and the construction of modern buildings reflects the changing times and the pressure of urbanization. The once small fishing village has now become a bustling city, and the original residents have been replaced by a new generation of residents who are more interested in the convenience and comfort of modern living than in preserving the area’s history and cultural heritage.

As I reflect on it, I was moved by the thought that future generations may never know the rich history of Coconut Grove or the contributions of its original residents. The Bahamian Cemetery, where many of the neighborhood’s early Bahamian settlers are buried, was a poignant reminder of the community’s history, but the cemetery is now surrounded by modern buildings and the once peaceful environment has been disrupted by the sounds of traffic and construction.

It is important that we take steps to preserve the history of Coconut Grove and to ensure that future generations will be able to learn about the community’s rich cultural heritage. This can be done by supporting the preservation of historic sites, such as The Barnacle and the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and by promoting the appreciation of the area’s cultural heritage through education and public programs.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

In conclusion, my visit to Coconut Grove changed my understanding of the neighborhood in many ways. I came away from my visit to Coconut Grove with a newfound appreciation for the neighborhood. Coconut Grove is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world. The area is known for its natural beauty, charming architecture, and unique cultural experiences, but it is also a neighborhood that is rich in history and cultural diversity. I am saddened by the loss of its rich history and cultural heritage, but I am also hopeful that the community’s legacy will not be forgotten. Overall, my visit to Coconut Grove was a truly enriching experience, Coconut Grove is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Miami.

Coral Gables as Text

“Coral Gables: A Vision of Utopia and its Social Cost” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Coral Gables on February 26, 2023.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Coral Gables, which was meant to be “The City Beautiful,” is a breathtaking city that was built on the ambitious vision of George Merrick. As he shared his vision in his speech, he expresses that “we are not only viewing a big city, but a great city, one truly great! Such a city is balanced. Such a city is of proportion. Such balance, and such proportion as are so satisfying as one looks at some of these old ancient colonial homes of New England, proper balance, proper proportion.” Therefore, Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables was undoubtedly ambitious, as evidenced by the city’s striking architectural features and unique urban planning.

The city’s neighborhoods, built in a park-like setting, reflected Merrick’s desire to create an idealistic atmosphere where residents could enjoy the beauty of nature and their surroundings. Likewise, the Spanish style that was used to build many of the city’s buildings and homes gave it a dreamlike appearance. His vision led to the creation of a stunning city with a unique mix of commercial and residential zoning, striking architectural features, and beautiful parks.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

He fulfilled its vision of the city, as its neighborhoods clearly reflect the utopian atmosphere of this city, and its outstanding architectural buildings in the Mediterranean Revival style, make it seem like a dream city. However, there was an excessive cost that is usually overlooked. As we look back at the history of Coral Gables, it is essential to recognize the social cost that was paid for its construction. Many of the workers who built this beautiful city were immigrants from the Bahamas and African Americans who were subjected to unjust and inhumane working conditions. They were forced to endure racism and discrimination, as Merrick also proposed to forcefully displace Black families and individuals from Miami, guided by his racist nature.

George Merrick wanted to create a city that was not only large but also great, one that was balanced and of proportion. A utopia came true. However, he did not hesitate of wanting to get rid of those who built the city once his project was completed, leaving them without a chance to enjoy the beautiful city. The abuse these individuals had to endure during these tough times is inexplicable and unjustifiable, but it is even more outrageous to know that there was still not enough recognition for these individuals.

It is essential to remember the injustices that occurred during the construction of Coral Gables and to honor the memory of those who were mistreated. The history of Coral Gables is incomplete without acknowledging the efforts of the immigrants from the Bahamas and African Americans who worked tirelessly to build the city. The arduous work of these individuals significantly impacted the growth and development of Miami-Dade County, and it is incumbent upon us to recognize their contributions. As we reflect on the past, it is crucial to honor the roles of these individuals and acknowledge the injustices that occurred. It is through recognizing and learning from our past that we can build a more just future for all.

Norton as Text

“The Intersection of Art, History, and Beliefs” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Norton Museum of Art on March 19, 2023.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

As humans, we possess an innate desire to connect with something greater than ourselves. It is this yearning that drives us to seek out purpose, and to never lose sight of the extraordinary power that lies within us to connect, to create, and to inspire. Hence, art is a powerful medium that has the ability to capture the essence of life and preserve it for future generations. During my visit to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, I was struck by the incredible power of art to capture life and avoid death, as well as inspire belief and shape our understanding of our own history.

Throughout history, artists have used their talents to create works that immortalize people, places, and events of their time.  Likewise, art has been used to reflect the events and experiences of the time in which it was created. The Norton Museum of Art is home to many paintings that offer a glimpse into the historical and cultural context of their creation. Among these works are several paintings of the Virgin Mary, which offer a fascinating insight into the role of religion and belief throughout history and allowed me to reflect on the way in which religion and belief have impacted and shaped our society.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

However, as I looked around the museum, I notice that many of the visitors seemed to be more interested in non-religious art. I believe that part of the reason why many people today are turning away from traditional religion is because they are seeking new forms of meaning and purpose in their lives. As science and technology have advanced, we have gained a new understanding of the universe and our place in it. And as we have become more aware of the diversity of human cultures and experiences, we have come to appreciate the rich variety of beliefs and traditions that exist in the world.

For some, this has led to a renewed interest in spirituality and mysticism. For others, it has led to a fascination with science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of imaginative storytelling, as they seek to explore new worlds and possibilities. But no matter what form it takes, I accept as true that beliefs will always be a part of the human experience. Whether we are inspired by the great religious traditions of the past or by new visions of the future, we will always seek to find meaning and purpose in our lives, and to connect with something greater than ourselves.

And so, as I left the museum and returned to the busy streets of Miami, I felt grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed so many works of art that capture the beauty and complexity of human life. And I felt optimistic that, even as our society changes and evolves, we will always find ways to express our deepest beliefs and longings through the power of creativity and imagination. My visit to the Norton Museum of Art was an inspiring reminder of the incredible power of art to shape our understanding of the world and inspire belief. Whether it’s through religious art or modern installations, art has the ability to transport us to new heights of inspiration and creativity.

Key Biscayne as Text

“A Journey Through History and Nature” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Bill Baggs State Park on April 02, 2023.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Have you ever experienced something that left such a profound impact on you that no matter what you will still think about it vividly even years later? That is exactly how I felt when I visited Bill Baggs State Park and climbed to the top of the lighthouse. Bill Baggs State Park is a natural oasis, with stunning beaches and a fascinating history that spans centuries. During our trip to the park, I had the opportunity to explore its many wonders, including its historic lighthouse that has been around for over 160 years.

One of the most memorable moments of my experience at Bill Baggs State Park was reaching the top of the lighthouse and seeing the entire island from a bird’s-eye view. The climb up the stairs was exhilarating as I could feel how each step brought me closer to the sky. When I finally reached the top, I was struck by the vastness of the landscape and the breathtaking views that surrounded me. From the top of the lighthouse, I could see the crystal-clear waters and the lush greenery of the surrounding forests. I felt a sense of awe and wonder at the natural beauty of the island, and I was reminded of the importance of preserving and protecting our environment. It was a moment of realization that nature is not something to be taken for granted, but rather something to be cherished and respected.

At the same time, being at the top of the lighthouse allowed me to connect with the island’s history in a new and profound way. I could imagine the Tequesta, Spanish explorers, and American settlers all looking out at the same view from this very spot, each with their own unique perspectives and experiences. It was an opportunity to step back in time and gain a deeper appreciation for the struggles and triumphs of those who came before us.

As we strolled through the park, I could not help but wonder what this land looked like when the Tequesta first called it home. Many people only remember the Tequesta for their attack on the lighthouse during the Seminole Wars. However, we must understand that this event was not without cause. The Tequesta were being massacred all over the South and pushed further and further down each time. They had no choice but to fight or be eradicated. Therefore, their attack on the lighthouse was a message of resilience, it was not an absolute triumph, but it was a victory that nobody could ever take away from them.

Professor Bailly’s insights also provided a unique perspective, helping me understand the island’s significance and importance from a broader viewpoint. Walking through Key Biscayne was more than just a journey through history; it was a chance to connect with the past and gain a deeper understanding of the present. It was a humbling reminder that history is not just something that happened a long time ago, but rather something that shapes our present and our future.

Reflecting on my experience, I could not help but feel grateful for the opportunity to learn about the island’s rich history. It was a moment of realization that exploring the world around us is not just about discovering new places, but also about discovering ourselves. Every experience we have, every person we meet, and every place we visit shapes who we are and who we become.

But beyond the personal growth and discovery, my experience at Bill Baggs State Park left me with a sense of responsibility to continue learning about the world around me. It highlighted the importance of preserving and protecting our environment and history for future generations. It was one of the most rewarding and inspiring experiences of my life. My visit to Bill Baggs State Park and the lighthouse was a transformative experience that reminded me of the incredible beauty and rich history that surrounds us. I also gained a newfound respect for the Tequesta and their culture, which had been largely erased from history. Overall, it allowed me to connect with the past, better understand the present, and feel inspired to continue exploring about the world around me.

Chosen Neighborhood as Text

“Acknowledging the Past, Embracing the Present: Exploring the Complexities of Coral Gables’ History” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Coral Gables on April 02, 2023.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Coral Gables, located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, is a city with an undeniable charm that captures the hearts of visitors from all around the world. Its stunning architecture, historic landmarks, and lush greenery make it a must-see destination. To explore the unique and authentic nature of Coral Gables, it is necessary to learn about its urban design, museums, monuments, transportation, places of worship, eateries, demographics, and the broader lessons that can be reflected upon while exploring forgotten pieces of its history.

Coral Gables is known for its beautiful Mediterranean-style architecture that can be found in many of the city’s buildings and landmarks. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Biltmore Hotel, which was built in 1926 and features stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. The city is also known for its green spaces, with many parks and gardens located throughout the area.

In addition to its architecture and greenery, Coral Gables is home to several museums, including the Coral Gables Museum, which explores the city’s history and culture. The Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami is also located in Coral Gables and features a collection of more than 19,000 objects.

The streets are wide and well-maintained, making it easy to navigate around the city. The best way to explore Coral Gables is by car, as many of the city’s attractions are spread out over a wide area. However, it is a walkable city and there are public transportation options available, including buses and trolleys. There are also bike rental stations located throughout the city for those who prefer to cycle.

When it comes to food, Coral Gables is a true culinary destination, with many restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. Some popular eateries in the area include Caffe Abbracci, a traditional Italian restaurant, and Bulla Gastrobar, a Spanish-inspired restaurant.

The city is also home to several places of worship, including the Coral Gables Congregational Church, which was the first to be built in this neighborhood and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Coral Gables Register of Historic Landmarks. The city is also home to the First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, which has been a fixture in the community since 1926.

Coral Gables has a population of approximately 50,000 people, and it is known for being an affluent community with a high standard of living. The city is also known for its diversity, with a mix of different ethnic and racial groups, even though it was not originally planned to be that way.

Coral Gables has a tragic history that cannot be overlooked. It was founded in 1925 by George Merrick, a visionary developer who wanted to create a Mediterranean-style city that embodied beauty and balance. His idea was to build a city with wide streets, lush green spaces, and striking architecture, which he called “The City Beautiful.” Though his dream was realized, it came at a great social cost. The construction of this city subjected immigrants from the Bahamas and African American workers to inhumane working conditions and discrimination. Ignoring the contributions and mistreatment of these individuals leaves the history of Coral Gables incomplete. Therefore, we must acknowledge the past and honor their roles in building this city.

As visitors and residents to Coral Gables, it is important to be mindful of the broader lessons that this city teaches us about the challenges that cities face and the importance of working towards a more just and equitable society. By exploring Coral Gables and learning about its history, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the people who helped create this beautiful city, while also recognizing the injustices they faced. It serves as a reminder that every city carries its own story, and Coral Gables emphasizes the importance of understanding it to create a brighter tomorrow for all.

Design District or Wynwood as Text

“One of the greatest Miamians” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Wynwood on April 16, 2023.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Miami in Miami is not merely a conventional class; rather, it has been an experience that has significantly impacted and changed my life. As I reflect on it, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to hear from so many individuals who have transformed their passions into impactful work. Among them, Mr. Martin Z. Margulies stands out as a true inspiration.

During our visit to Wynwood, our knowledgeable professor Bailly introduced us to Mr. Margulies as one of the greatest Miamians, and initially, I was intrigued by this introduction. However, after spending the morning with him and hearing about his story, I came to realize why he deserved such a title. Mr. Margulies’ unique combination of humbleness and passion was evident from the moment we met him. He greeted us with warmth and openness, eager to share his extensive knowledge of art and his incredible journey with us. I particularly admire his decision to follow his passion, as his transition from the real estate industry to the art world was a courageous one, reflecting his determination and resilience. Mr. Margulies’ willingness to take risks and try new things is truly inspiring and serves as a testament to the significance of pursuing one’s dreams and passions.

As he walked us through the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, his passion for art and dedication to supporting others was palpable. What struck me most about Mr. Margulies was his unwavering commitment to his values. Despite his immense success in the art world, he remained grounded and focused on what truly mattered: staying true to ourselves and using our resources to make a difference in the world. The Lotus House Women’s Shelter, an organization he founded to help homeless women and children, is a testament to this commitment. He has been instrumental in the success of the Lotus House, providing not only financial support but also volunteering his time and resources to the organization. He has helped countless women and children, giving them hope and a new lease on life.

Mr. Margulies’s story is an inspiration that wealth should not be the only metric of success. Rather, it is a testament to the fact that with hard work and determination, anyone can make a difference. It takes immense courage to pursue one’s passions and face the hurdles that come with it, but the gains are invaluable. Mr. Margulies’s life is a testament to this, as he has not only achieved incredible success but also used his platform to uplift and empower others.

My meeting with Mr. Margulies was an unforgettable experience that has left a profound impact on me. He is an inspirational individual who has touched the lives of many through his love for art and his commitment to service to others. He has shown that one can be influential, powerful, and still remain humble and committed to helping others. His humility, passion, and commitment to his values are qualities that I will always strive to emulate in my own life. I am inspired by the example he has set and grateful for the opportunity to have learned from him.

Chicken Key as Text

“Rediscovering Balance” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Chicken key on April 26, 2023.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Imagine a place where the worries of the world fade away, and all that remains is the serene beauty of nature. That is how I felt as I kayaked towards Chicken Key, a small island that felt like a hidden oasis just a mile away from the eccentric city of Miami. Despite being unable to make it on the last day of class, the memory of my journey to this remarkable place lingered in my mind. As I approached the island, I was struck by the incredible beauty of the lush greenery and clear waters that surrounded it, making me forget about the bustling city that I had left behind just a few minutes ago. It served as a powerful reminder that regardless of the chaos and complexity that often permeate our lives, nature remains a sanctuary. As we navigate the demands of modern society every day, but we usually forgot to embrace the tranquility that nature provides, allowing us to reconnect with our deepest selves and restore balance to our minds and bodies.

Upon arrival, I was struck by the beauty and serenity of the island. I remember it was as if time was non-existent, and we were the only ones on earth, in full connection with our most natural state. Stepping onto the island, I was immediately hit by the peacefulness of the surroundings, leaving behind the stressful life of the big and loud city. That refreshing peace made me question the concept of development that we hold so dearly in our society. Upon contemplating the displacement of the native people who lived in symbiosis with their surroundings, nurturing the land that nurtured them, I began to question if replacing nature with complex structures and residential areas was worth it and could be considered an improvement.

As I explored the island, it became evident that we had disrupted the delicate equilibrium that once existed in nature. This realization served as a stimulus for introspection, leading me to reflect on the importance of coexist in harmony with the environment. It is imperative that we recognize the impact of our actions and take responsibility for the restoration and preservation of our natural resources and ecosystems.

However, I was glad to notice that efforts were being made to restore the island to its natural state. Thanks to Professor Bailly’s tireless efforts and arduous work, not only were we able to contribute to the cleaning of the island, but I also realized the immense value he brings to the cause. His dedication and commitment serve as an inspiration to all of us. The native plants were being reintroduced to the island, and the animals were being given the space and freedom they needed to thrive. It was a reminder that even though we had made mistakes in the past, it was never too late to make amends.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

My visit to Chicken Key was an eye-opening experience. It made me realize the importance of preserving our natural environment and reminded me that progress should not come at the cost of destroying the environment. We have the power to make a difference, to learn from the past, and to restore the natural balance that once existed. While it can be easy to feel small and insignificant in the face of such a vast and complex issue, every individual action can have a significant impact. By making slight changes, we can collectively make a difference.

Miami Final Reflection as Text

“A Journey of Exploration and Growth” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU on April 26, 2023.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

As the semester comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey that was the “Miami in Miami” class. When I first enrolled in the course, I was unsure of what to expect. Despite having lived in Miami for a few years, I had yet to explore much beyond my immediate neighborhood. As a newcomer to the city, I possessed only a vague understanding of Miami’s culture and history, with much left to learn and explore.

But all of that changed with this life changing class. It completely transformed my perspective of this city and provided me with new outlooks on life. From the very first day, our knowledgeable and enthusiastic professor, Bailly, led us on a journey through Miami that was unlike any other. Whether we were exploring the lush beauty of the Everglades, getting lost in the colorful street art of Wynwood, or learning about the fascinating history of Coconut Grove, I felt like every moment of this class was a new adventure.

One of the highlights of the class was the opportunity to visit several lesser-known places and landmarks that had a significant impact on the city. The Everglades, for example, was a fascinating destination that showcased the natural beauty of South Florida and its delicate ecosystem. Visiting Coconut Grove and Coral Gables gave me a glimpse of Miami’s early days as a small village, while Key Biscayne was an idyllic getaway that allowed me to enjoy Miami’s natural beauty. Finally, visiting Chicken Key was an eye-opening experience that showed me the importance of preserving Miami’s natural habitats.

Through these visits, I gained a newfound appreciation for Miami’s rich history and culture, as well as its natural beauty. I was particularly struck by the diversity of the city’s communities and the importance of preserving the unique cultural heritage that each group contributes to Miami’s identity. I have learned about the contributions of indigenous tribes, African Americans, and Latin American and Caribbean immigrants to Miami’s history and culture. I have also become more aware of the challenges and issues facing the city and its communities, such as gentrification and discrimination, among others.

But it was not just the places we visited that made this class so special; it was the people we met along the way. I will never forget the incredible depth of knowledge and passion that our instructor and guest speakers brought to the table while sharing their stories and insights. They offered life-changing advice and shared their individual experiences, helping us to see Miami in a new light and appreciate it on a deeper level.

Looking back on this class, I realize how much I have learned and grown. My image of Miami has been transformed from a superficial and touristy place to a vibrant and complex city with a rich history and culture. I feel more connected to my surroundings and have a newfound appreciation for the people and places that make Miami so unique.

Overall, the “Miami in Miami” was an incredible enriching experience. It allowed me to develop a greater sense of belonging and gain a newfound appreciation for Miami and all that it has to offer. I have learned that it is a city that is constantly evolving, shaped by the people who call it home. Miami is a city of diversity, of vibrant culture, and of resilience. It is a city that has faced many challenges over the years but has always emerged stronger and more vibrant than ever before. Miami in Miami class has changed the way I see Miami and the world around me. It has shown me the importance of exploring beyond the surface level and truly immersing oneself in a place to understand its essence. I am grateful for the opportunity to have taken this class and for the new perspectives and insights it has given me. As I move forward, I will continue to explore Miami with fresh eyes and an open heart, ready to discover all the beauty and wonder that this incredible city has to offer.

Maria Bracamonte: Miami as Text 2022 – 2023

Photograph taken by  Angle platform /CC by 4.0

Maria Bracamonte is a junior majoring in Business Administration in Finance at the Florida International University. She aspires to develop her expertise in the field to combat the scarcity of financial knowledge and advises others to make smart monetary decisions. However, her long-term career goal is to build a company that allows her to give back to the community and offer growth opportunities to minorities in this country. She values academic excellence, community services, and involvement. She has completed more than two hundred hours of services in her community and has participated in and led multiple organizations. She is an active member of the Phoenician Investment Fund, and she is also part of the Honors College Program at FIU. She is passionate about arts, with more than ten years of experience in performing arts: dance and theater. Likewise, she has great admiration for photography, cinema, music, literature, and painting.

Freedom Tower as Text

“A Home for Immigrants” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at The Freedom Tower on September 7, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

The United States has served as a host to more immigrants than other nations, and it has been shaped by immigration over the generations. Newcomers have driven essential U.S. transformations, impacting it in all aspects: demographically, culturally, socially, and politically. Since its beginnings, this country has received immigrants from all over the world. For many, it represents a place of opportunities and hopes to flourish and find the freedom they so desire. Florida, specifically Miami, has become the second home for thousands of people who come in search of the American dream, arriving here with almost no resources. However, Miami is a city that has become well known in the world for being a wonderful tourist location, by providing luxurious experiences to its visitors. Throughout the city, you can see incredible buildings that are considered architectural works of art. From imponent residences to deluxe offices and astonishing museums.

This modern city is always moving and developing, and so are its buildings. It hypnotizes its residents and visitors with magnificent skyscrapers. However, we often fail to remember and overlook those buildings where history took place, and that was there from the beginning of this amazing metropolis. One of the city’s most impressive monuments, and a landmark is the Freedom Tower. This imposing 17-story building was built in the mid-1920s and has been reinvented throughout its history. The construction of the Freedom Tower was inspired by the Giralda Tower in Spain, and it was designed by the architectural firm Schultze and Weaver. The cast iron decoration, wrought-iron balconies, and concrete cherubs reflect the Spanish style of the building. It represents the confidence of early commercial companies in the future of Miami during the boom years. It was a great achievement for the time since it has more square meters of space than any other building in the area.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

This building turns into an exceptional and distinctive component of the Miami skyline. However, its importance goes beyond its architectural impact. As its façade is as inspiring as its historical impact. It began as the Miami News Tower, it was a printing facility for newspapers originally named the Miami Metropolis, the first newspaper of the city. Later, it was renamed the Freedom Tower as it served as a Cuban refugee emergency center, that aided Cubans who managed to escape the dictatorship of Castro. It was in this building where hundreds of Cubans naturalized as American and started their new lives as free citizens.

The Freedom Tower is one of Miami’s most respected and treasured buildings because it represents the liberty of the oppressed citizens who fled tyranny in seeking democracy and the American dream. It was the place where hundreds of Cuban refugees had their first contact with the United States. It was also a place where many immigrants could access many essential services to start their lives in the land of opportunities. Nowadays, the Freedom Tower is a fully operational cultural center. It was donated to Miami Dade College, and it is part of the main cultural programs of the College.

As I immigrant myself, I appreciate the significance of this historical event and the building in which it took place. The Freedom Tower represents hope for those that have not found liberty yet, but it also celebrates the courage and success of those who made it. As I walk by its wall, I can taste the excitement of those who were there. I look back and understand their pain to the left what they call home. I reflect and feel gratitude for being here. And I look forward to thriving and achieving the American Dream, as they did.

Hialeah as Text

“The woman who revolutionized sports” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Hialeah on September 14, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte // CC by 4.0

On Wednesday, September 21st, 2022, while I was walking through Overtown and Hialeah’s streets I learn about perseverance. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, perseverance is a “continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time.” In other words, it is our ability to not give up no matter how tough the situation we are in may be. It might sound uncomplicated, but only those who fought for what they believe in, realize the strengths it takes to make it that far. Perseverance has been an essential element to reaching success in more than one historic event. It continues to be that power that allows us to get to our full potential and inspire individuals around us. Therefore, it is terrifying to visualize how different our lives would be if those who fought against injustice and unfairness would have given up in their quest because of the struggles it involved.

The bravery and perseverance of Diane Crump are what inspired me the most during this trip. Crump was a jockey and horse trainer, who became the first woman to participate in horse racing in The United States of America. Even though females have pretty much always had access to physical activities in an enlightening and entertaining sense, it is not a secret that women did not have as many opportunities to engage in these activities as competitions as men could. Therefore, Diane’s participation in the event was so controversial that it required a full police escort through the unfriendly crowd at the Hialeah Park Racetrack. She had to deal with gender barriers, judgment, verbal aggression, and rudeness from male jockeys, who decided not to participate in the race because of her. On the day of the race, she faced many obstacles, but she persisted and competed.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte // CC by 4.0

Despite the race itself being seen as the main challenge for Diane Crump, being able to participate was in reality her accomplishment. She persisted in her dream of race as a professional horse jockey. She lost the race that day but “in a career spanning three decades, she rode 300 winners, and became the first woman to compete in the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1970 – a race that only six women have taken part in since it was first to run in 1875” (McKenzie).

Diane Crump’s perseverance in her dream allow her to become a major changemaker and an influential individual for many women who were also struggling with their own dreams. In her own words, “No matter what you do, there are going to be a lot of challenges and obstacles. You are going to get hurt, at least in my sport. You are going to feel like you can’t accomplish what you want. So, you have to have that belief in yourself that you can do what is in your heart. To me, that’s it. The dream is in your heart. No matter if I was injured, how many broken bones, how much pain, how much resistance. I just never gave up” (NY Times).

Works Cited

Cambridge Dictionary. “Perseverance.” @CambridgeWords, 21 Sept. 2022,

“Jockeys Know the ‘Pick Yourself Up’ Mantra Well.” The New York Times, 2020,

McKenzie, Sheena. “Jockey Who Refused to Stay in the Kitchen.” CNN, CNN, 26 Sept. 2012,

Biscayne Bay/Chicken Key as Text

“Small Actions, Massive Impact” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Biscayne Bay/ Chicken Key on October 5, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Pollution in oceans, lakes, rivers, and other water bodies is a global crisis that has been overlooked. The accumulation of substances that do not belong to water masses is becoming more common every day. It results in changes in the composition of the water to such an extent that it affects the habitat of those who reside in it. Water Pollution is not only destroying the natural beauty of ecosystems, but it is also significantly affecting their biodiversity. Additionally, it has a major impact on our health, by contaminating the food chain, spreading disease, and due to lack of drinking water. According to the Lancet Commission on pollution and health “Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide—three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.” Therefore, it is our obligation to take action and restore the damage we created. 

After reflecting on our expedition at Chicken Key, I realized that all the waste we found did not get there in an instant. On the contrary, it was the result of a sum of small negative actions that were constantly carried out by a large number of human beings. It made me understand how impactful tiny actions can be when done regularly, and I associated it with the Butterfly Effect. It refers to “the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” In a sense that something that can be small and insignificant ended up causing huge damage. Considering the case of Edward Lorenz, who discovered the butterfly effect, just as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tornado, just throwing a piece of plastic could end the existence of wildlife in their environment. It is also important to mention that other external factors could intervene in the creation of chaos, and we often do not consider them. For example, the substances found at Chicken Key may have not been deposited nearby the island, but they were probably dragged there by Hurricane Ian.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

I do not doubt that when people throw out waste, they do not stop to think that such action can have huge consequences. This is one of the reasons why it is so relevant to raise awareness and be well-informed. However, being aware is not enough. It is also important to act. Just as small negative actions can have a big impact, small-scale positive behaviors done constantly can also be powerful and reverse the damage caused. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to contribute to achieving this goal by doing what is right and corresponds to us as inhabitants of the earth. If we do not take action now, both marine and non-marine ecosystems will continue to deteriorate, until it reaches a point where it would be very challenging to save them, and all living things involved will be affected. Therefore, we must act now.

Works Cited

“Butterfly Effect – Google Arts & Culture.” Google Arts & Culture, Google Arts & Culture, 2013,

Landrigan, Philip J., et al. “The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.” The Lancet, vol. 391, no. 10119, Feb. 2018, pp. 462–512,

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens as a Text

“Miami as a house” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on October 12, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a magical place that allow you to travel space and time. As soon as you enter its facilities, you are surrounded in a forest that seems enchanted, and in which you feel the disconnection from the overwhelming city that Miami can be. However, and even though it may seem otherwise, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens from its beginnings indicated the destiny and expansion of this metropolis. It is a place that is wrapped in culture, travel, arts, knowledge, interactions of races, and social classes in each of its corners, just as Miami is. This building, which used to be the home of James Deering and is now a museum, is not lacking in extravagance and detail in any of its rooms and spaces, highlighting what life was like for those with unlimited purchasing power.

Even though it follows a perception very much of the era in which it was built, ironically it also represents how Miami is perceived today due to the great variety of historical elements with significant worldwide importance. As soon as you walk through the metal and glass doors that were not originally there, you are dazzled with a taste of what the entire house will be like. It features a sculpture depicting the pleasures of life and enjoyment, which tend to be elements that describe Miami very well.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Among the astonishing architecture and art that gives life to this old home, the museum also has abundant nature, which resembles how fresh and full of life this city is. Also, we can observe the different use of neoclassical art in the entrance, Rococo in the reception, and Mudejar art in the hall. And just as in Miami you can find elements and people from all over the world, this impressive residence was created and decorated with components collected from different parts of the globe. On the other hand, in different corners and details of the house, we can observe the representation of elements that are not easily captured by the human eye without the proper knowledge, such as the balcony of the lovers or the garden in which social classes were not distinguished.

All these diverse aspects illustrate important themes, one of the most striking for me was the false appearances. In the library of the mansion, we found a door with fake books, which in my opinion today may symbolize how in Miami it is more important how you project yourself in society than what you are. Certainly, it is a hypocritical society that considers the exterior and the amount of money you have. Another characteristic that abounds in these spaces is arrogance and greed, which is shown in stained glass windows with the words “JA’I DIT” which translates to I have been but also symbolizes the initials of the owner of the house, as well as the need to have the most advanced technology of the time such as an antique telephone. Despite these not-so-friendly elements, this place has been of such influence that it has given rise to historical moments such as important meetings between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and more importantly it does not fail to provide peace when you walk around.

South Beach as Text

“Courage can also be feminine” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at South Beach on October 26, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

It took one person’s vision and initiative to change the future of many. That person was Barbara Baer Capitman. Nowadays, South Beach is a worldwide known tourist area of remarkable significance. It is characterized by its infrastructures of great architectural value and its beaches that attract millions of visitors and onlookers every year. Its relevance comes to the extent that it has attracted celebrities who have made it their home. In addition, it is home to the largest concentration of preserved Art Deco buildings in the world. However, without the efforts of Barbara Baer Capitman, this renowned zone that is immersed in the tourist industry, would not look the same way it does now. On the contrary, condominiums, hotels, and luxury residences would have replaced its stunning architecture.

Barbara Baer Capitman was a writer, artist, and preservationist, who was an influential element in the conservation of South Beach’s Art Deco District. Popular buildings from the 1920s and 1930s that implement an elegant but not minimalist style are found in this distinctive neighborhood. Their intention was to create buildings that innovate with unique styles that would represent the Age of machines. It also featured natural elements, Mesopotamian and Mesoamerican designs, and linear bas-relief decorative designs. Capitman understood how important was to conserve the Art Deco treasure before anyone else. Despite not being a native of Miami, her passion for art and the need to protect the neighborhood, in which mostly Jewish retirees resided and for which she had great appreciation, were keys to achieving her goals and of significant impact in this area.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Likewise, she founded the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) which was integrated by other individuals who shared her passion and believed in her vision. The creation of this league was the first step of many that allow millions of people to continue to admire this neighborhood, otherwise, it would only be a memory of those who once lived in these streets. Miami Design Preservation League and its members fought to save Miami Beach’s Art Deco buildings, which were already in a pretty run-down state at the time. Capitman fought to the end of her days for what she believed was right. She clashed with politicians and developers to ensure these infrastructures were not destroyed. And even though many were demolished, the cause was not lost since many buildings are still standing and continue to perseverate.

By learning about Barbara Baer Capitman’s legacy, I admired the courage of influential women who fought against injustices, and whose actions were essential to the development of Miami as the city we know today. It is inspiring how, despite having to confront criticism and social obstacles, they always remained true to themselves, and managed to contribute with the help of many others to the causes that they considered required attention. On the other hand, it is unfortunate how the stories of these heroines are not as well-known and lack relevance to the masses, which can be seen in how the statue of Barbara Baer Capitman looks a bit rusty and poorly maintained. Regardless, they continue to be an inspiration for the younger generation of how taking action now can impact the future of many.

Deering Estate as Text

“Identity” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Deering Estate on November 16, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Discovering ourselves is a task all human beings have had to endure at some point in their lives. The concept we have about the exceptional set of characteristics that can be used to identify ourselves as an individual and distinguish us from anyone else is constantly growing and evolving. Many believe our culture, history, philosophies, and principles, even nationality, represent a significant extent of who we are. These components are what we are made of. They describe us, make us unique and they are what we identify ourselves with. And until not long ago, I believed it was true too. With the development of civilization and the evolution of history, human beings have been divided and classified by race, borders, social classes, beliefs, and thoughts, among others. However, what we think makes us different from the rest, is exactly what unites us.

During our expedition at the Deering Estate, I discovered that our connection with each other and between cultures is stronger than I ever thought. We tend to proudly encapsulate the diverse ways of life according to entire civilizations, including their arts, beliefs, and knowledge, along with others and we ensure to pass them down from generation to generation to guarantee their preservation. But we are so focused on distinguishing ourselves from each other that we forget that we are all connected. As we tour the Deering Estate’s facilities, it is almost impossible not to admire its particular buildings. From the eye-catching Artists-In-Residence Studios and the picturesque cabins with classic American style to the Stone House, which was the one that put my beliefs of identity between cultures into perspective.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

The Stone House is a three-story structure made of poured concrete and limestone walls. It was constructed based on the design of Charles Deering’s house in Spain by the architect Phineas Paist for Charles Deering himself, who was an art collector, preservationist, philanthropist, businessman, and original owner of the Deering Estate. This building has endless architectural elements of immense value and stories that dazzle its spectators. Some of these elements include French doors, balconies, an extensive collection of art, and an Otis elevator, which was an innovation for the year 1922 in which the house was built. Likewise, there was a Prohibition Era wine cellar, in which Deering kept a large secret collection of liquors.

However, what caught my attention the most was the fact that this construction has elements from the Middle Eastern Countries that were adapted by Spaniards and then added to this structure accordingly. The facade of this house has great similarities with classic facades of said countries’ constructions and resembles old buildings designed in the stated region. Thus, creating a ripple effect of influence from one culture to another. This puts into perspective the purity of cultures and leads us to realize that by learning from others around us, we can understand ourselves better.

Understanding our origins and learning about those who walked the earth before us also impact how we perceive ourselves. During this adventure, I had the opportunity to visit lands that not many have access to nowadays, but that were once the home of those who first arrived there. I get to reconnect with nature and explore multiple ecosystems that expanded my knowledge of those who lived before me. This made us conclude that our connection with others affects our own identity, as external factors became a modifier of who we are.

Rubell Museum as Text

Shift of Perspective” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Rubell Museum on November 23, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Rubell Museum was the first contact I ever had with contemporary art. From its entrance, you can notice that this place is not like any other museum. It is as peculiar and fascinating as the art exhibitions that are found there, such as the Yayoi Kusama rooms. As we enter this building we were advised to not even stop to consider if what is in front of us is art. That simple but effective sentence shifted my perspective on art, and positively impact my whole experience there. I was so used to admiring complex paintings on canvas and sculptures full of details that clearly show the talent and effort that the artist put into it, but I forgot that art is about how it makes you feel and how it can stimulate your life in many different ways. Fortunately, my time in the Rubell Museum remind me that art can change how you perceive what is around you, and it certainly makes you reflect on your own experiences based on someone else’s stories – the artists’ stories.

I attempted to see this situation from a point of view outside my own, and I put myself in those artists’ shoes. I went over and over the idea of how artists sometimes struggle to be understood, but I was also fascinated to realize that each viewer had their own interpretation of their artwork. I discovered that each one of us is moved by the same piece of art but in a different sense. I also reflected on my own struggle to make people realize that dance is a form of expression. I am not a professional dancer, and even though it has been a while since I step on stage, I still feel alive when I move to the rhythm of the music. However, it was not until I met Mera Rubell that I understood that it takes a lot to pursue what makes you feel alive.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Don and Mera Rubell, who started by showing artwork in their apartment and now own more than 50,000 pieces of artwork, followed their passion for collecting art and impacted thousands of lives in their journey. Meeting her and learning about her and her husband’s story made me feel inspired by their courage. They started knowing nothing about the art collecting world but took the risk and did it regardless. However, what makes it more significant is the fact that they never consider the monetary value of art when acquiring it, instead, they focus on how meaningful the piece was for them. They managed to successfully avoid being consumed by the greed of the business and remained faithful to what let them get to where they are now, their passion for art.

They are live changers. By pursuing their passion, they have provided a multitude of artists with a space for their voices to be heard, and their art to be seen. They also recognize the struggle of artists to be noticed and understood, so they changed the lives of artists since the beginning of their careers by supporting and acquiring their art, and they continue to do so. Likewise, they significantly impact the lives of visitors that walk the corridors of its museums and have the opportunities to observe all the artwork they have collected, as they did to me. From that experience, I learned that sometimes you need to shift your perspective to see beyond what is in front of you and you need to be brave enough to chase what gives purpose to your life.

Miami Art Week as Text

“Finding My Own Voice” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU at Untitled Art on November 30, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

Art has the power to influence people’s perspectives. It can move our souls, expand our knowledge, and shift our understanding of the world. Most importantly it serves as the bridge that allows the artist and its spectators to create a bond, so perspectives can be exchanged. Therefore, the artworks that make you feel and reflect are the ones that can deeply impact your life. Kates-Ferri Projects resonates with this concept. During Miami Art Week I had the opportunity to attempt Untitled Art, in which I was introduced to the HIS(HER)TORY exhibition produced by the Kates-Ferri Projects featuring C.J. Chueca, Turiya Magadlela, and Dana Robinson. 

Natalie Kates explained that HIS(HER)TORY was carefully designed to convey the idea of female inclusion to the world. It also represents the obstacles and struggles women have to deal with to successfully achieve that inclusion while touching on relevant social matters such as gender inequities, underrepresentation, and obsolete gender roles. In this exhibition, they presented three pieces: “We Are Night And Day” by C.J. Chueca, “Ebony Reprinted Series” by Dana Robinson, and “Theta Tati – Talk to me Father” by Turiya Magadlela.

These pieces of art are quite minimalist and can even become repetitive. However, it is not until their meaning is revealed that we realize a thoughtful message is found in their simplicity, and it certainly fulfills their purpose of shifting history by influencing their audiences. Although the three pieces had a significant impact on me, “Theta Tati – Talk to me Father” by Turiya Magadlela achieve completely influence the way I see the world from now on, and it makes me wonder how the world sees me as a woman. Likewise, it allows me to reflect on my own struggles in nowadays society, and the way of living in it. 

Turiya Magadlela designed this powerful and captivating work of art that at first glance appears to be a gigantic set of women’s nylon pantyhose interconnected with each other, which creates unusual shapes and involves color theories. As seen in other contemporary artworks, this piece can be vague if it is not interpreted correctly. However, it is well thought out, and the materials and colors are perfect to convey the concerns of the artist. Her works signify the fragility of women around the world, as well as their lack of equal opportunities. Through her art, Turiya Magadlela talks about her experience with the inappropriate treatment of thousands of women, particularly in South Africa where the artist is based. She also seeks to raise awareness about inequalities in female-based industries, ageism, and racialism. 

This artwork influenced my perspective by allowing me to reflect on the important of finding my own voice. As Natalie guided us to understand the meaning behind this piece, she invited us to question ourselves and evaluate the challenges we have to face as women in our personal and professional lives. Since my career choice, finance, is a male-dominated space, I felt quite identified with her words and with the artist’s intentions. The financial world is not only aggressive by nature, but it lacks female inclusion in all areas, so it takes a lot of courage as a woman to pursue this pathway. However, Natalie’s response to this challenge was incredibly wise. She expressed that being the only woman in the room also has a lot of power. It made me realize that I was looking at these challenges from the wrong angle. By saying this, I am not trying to minimize it, but from this experience, I learned that a change in perspective can have a significant impact on your life. From now on, I approach life knowing that finding my voice is more valuable than how many people that look like me are in the same room.

Chosen Neighborhood as Text

“Hialeah: The City of Progress” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU on December 11, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte // CC by 4.0

Hialeah is a neighborhood that embraces multiple generations and their cultures in its streets. This city, which is better known as the City of Progress, takes its name from the combination of two words of Muskogee origin “Haiyakpo” and “hili” which mean “High Prairie.” Its name refers to the distinctive landscape that covers their lands and which came to the attention of the Miccosukee during 1750 CE. These lands were inhabited long before by the Tequesta, but the town was formed in 1921 due to the involvement of James H. Bright and Glenn H. Curtiss. Likewise, the City of Hialeah was incorporated in 1925 and since then it has become the sixth largest city in Florida with more than 224,000 residents nowadays.

Its population grew generously during the 1960s when a wave of Cuban refugees arrived in the United States, escaping the Castro dictatorship. This city has historically been the home of numerous Cuban exiles, being more than 75% of its population Cuban. Multiple monuments around the city pay tribute to leaders and heroes who are valuable to the culture of these residents, such as José Martí Monument. Additionally, ninety-six percent of the inhabitants are of Hispanic or Latino origin which has led this city to be known as one of the most culturally centralized or less diverse cities in the country, taking into consideration that only 7.22% of its residents speak English as a first language.

These percentages directly influence the way this city is. It has a great appreciation for the Hispanic culture, and it is reflected in its food, music, and commerce. This city is the closest I have been to Latin America since I moved to the United States. When exploring this city, you will see that most stores are playing loud music, there are people selling fruit or flowers in street stalls, and there are many cafeterias and ventanitas where groups of people talk while eating croquetas or drinking a coladita, among other Cuban dishes.

Regarding Hialeah’s landmarks, one of its most important and historic locations is the Hialeah Park Racetrack, built in 1925. It is a horse racing track in which history was made when Diane Crump competed as the first woman jockey in a horse race in 1969. Likewise, the city has fifteen parks, being Amelia Earhart Park one of its most famous ones, as well as seven pools, two tennis centers, sports leagues, and multiple museums. It offers multiple annual events for families of the community to enjoy, such as The Art on Palm Festival, Eggstravaganza, the Independence Day Celebration, and Santa’s Snowblast.

Another relevant aspect of this city is its transportation and its commerce. Hialeah’s location is quite convenient since it is a few minutes from anywhere in the county. It is surrounded by Opa-Locka, Miami, and Miami Lakes and provides immediate access to both Opa-Locka Airport and Miami International Airport. Likewise, on the subject of public transportation Miami Metrorail and Tri-Rail, as well as its transit buses are available for all Hialeah residents and visitors. Likewise, the dynamic community is one of the largest areas of employment and economic development in Miami-Dade County. A variety of mom-and-pop stores and national retail, restaurant chains, and franchises fuel Hialeah’s economy offering a variety of employment opportunities, some of which are JJ Flowers Hialeah Flower Shop, Hialeah Schwinn Cycle, and Red, White & Blue Thrift Store.

Hialeah is a city full of life, culture, and history, where you will be able to enjoy its beautiful but peculiar spaces. Despite not being a resident of the city or having any affinity with the Cuban culture, I feel quite close to it as a member of the Hispanic community. This city demonstrates a profound sense of community and pride towards its roots, therefore, visiting Hialeah is the perfect way to visit Latin America without leaving the United States.

Works Cited

“About Hialeah | Hialeah, FL.”, 2022, Accessed 12 Dec. 2022.

“History of Hialeah | Hialeah, FL.”, 2022, Accessed 12 Dec. 2022.

My Miami Final Reflection as Text

“Finding the Real Miami” by Maria Bracamonte of FIU on December 11, 2022.

Photograph taken and edited by Maria Bracamonte / CC by 4.0

I never fully understood what Stephen R. Covey meant when he said, “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it” but that changed when I took the Miami In Miami course. I have been living in Miami for three years now, and before permanently moving here I visited this city multiple times. Whenever someone asked me how I would describe Miami, I used to answer that it was a city full of life that is influenced by many cultures with beautiful beaches, stunning structural design, and with many incredible locations to visit. Even though it is real, I innocently believe it was an absolute truth, without realizing that was just my perspective, and it was lacking knowledge and experience of the real Miami. In other words, I was conditioned to see it that way because I did not know better and never come into contact with Miami’s origins. I was just taking and accepting what was in from of me without further analysis of what this land was before and who used to live here, and we cannot entirely understand why this city is the way it is now, without taking a look at its past. 

Fortunately, without looking for it, I had the opportunity to go find the real Miami. With the company of amazing classmates and a very much knowledgeable and by far the coolest professor I have ever met, I set out on this journey. It consists of eight classes with different destinations. Starting with Historic Miami where we visited Government Center and the “Dropped bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels” nearby, Wagner Family Homestead, Fort Dallas/William English Plantation Slave Quarters, Miami-Dade County Courthouse, Miami’s Kilometer Zero, Miami River, Miami Circle, Freedom Tower, and many other significant monument and spaces that represent Miami’s history. Followed by Hialeah and Overtown, Chicken Key, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, South Beach, Deering Estate, Rubell Museum, and Untitled Art during the Miami Art Week. 

This class was like no other I have ever taken. Having the chance to walk the same land that those who live here millions of years before me, understand their lives, and how they contribute to building the city is a remarkable experience. Likewise, being able to receive knowledge, and speak and hear from professionals outside FIU was very valuable. I strongly believe this class would not have been as impactful and influential if it would only consist of teaching the lessons with a PowerPoint presentation. I felt like I was doing study abroad in my own city, and it definitely allowed me to step out of my comfort zone by experiencing many first times, such as taking the metro, kayaking, and experiencing contemporary art, among others. It helped me grow as a more well-round person. I did not only learn more about the city that has become my second home, but I also met incredible people in a way that deeply impact my life, my way of thinking, and how I perspective the world. I discovered that by learning about others, I learn more about myself, my abilities, and my skills. 

Due to my knowledge acquired in this class, my perspective of Miami and how I was conditionate to see it had changed. Even though it is still a city full of life with amazing places to visit, now I understand Miami is not only beaches, but it consists of multiple dense ecosystems. Now I know this land was the land of Tequesta and Miccosukee. I understand that the stories we were told only broadcast what was necessary. It failed to acknowledge Afro-Bahamian and Blacks’ labor and contribution to building Miami, as well as omitted their segregation, and overlook the recognition they deserve. I learned that strong women such as Julia Tuttle were essential to making Miami what it is nowadays. Finally, I now am aware that this city appreciates art like no other. Next time someone asks me how I would describe this beautiful city; I am sure all this new knowledge would come to mind, and I am excited to share the real Miami with others and keep learning about it.

Works Cited

“A Quote from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”, 2022, Accessed 11 Dec. 2022.

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