Miami in Miami: Gabriela Lastra

Photo by Amanda Velazquez (CC By 4.0)

My name is Gabriela Lastra and I am currently a senior in Florida International University’s Honors College. I am majoring in Criminal Justice and hope to pursue a career in law, focusing on civil litigation and commercial law. I was born in Cuba, but came to the United States as a child. I lived in various places before finally moving to Miami in 2010. I have always loved to travel and spend time outdoors. I always thought Miami wasn’t all its cracked up to be, but after my recent experiences with Study Abroad Italia I realize the face of the city that visitors see is not all there is if you just know how to look. Despite living here for nearly a decade, I know there is so much of Miami that I have yet to discover and I am excited to be able to see this city in a whole new light throughout this course.

Metro as Text

Photo by Gabriela Lastra (CC By 4.0)

Miami is a melting pot of a city, with dozens of cultures living side by side and mixing a little more every day. I have friends from all corners of the world and yet we still live, as Professor Bailly puts it, in our little bubbles. Communities group together, the Cubans in Little Havana, the Venezuelans in Doral. In the near-decade I’ve lived in Miami, not once did it occur to me to ride the Metrorail. I have a car, and before I did my parents drove me everywhere. I had no need of it and so no idea of the things I was missing. When people think of Miami, they think of the Miami James Deering presented to his guests at Vizcaya: beautiful and polished and on the cusp of eternal summer. It is crazy to think that in all my years in Miami, I’d never before been to Overtown unless I was driving through on my way somewhere else. I remember my grandfather in the back seat warning not to stop in this part of town, though I’m sure he had seen even less of it than I. I couldn’t believe the Lyric Theater has been open in Miami since 1913, through an age of segregation and discrimination, and I’d never even heard of it before. There’s an incredible community with a rich cultural history thriving around the metro, from Vizcaya Museum and Gardens with its very own stop to Northside with a mural by Purvis Young, a street artist whose career began in the 1970s in Overtown painting scenes from the things he observed around him. There is so much of Miami that I don’t know, so many facets I don’t even know are there. In a single day, the way I think about my city has changed. I can’t wait to see what more there is to find.

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