Miami in Miami: Blanca J Alcaraz

Hi everyone! My name is Blanca J Alcaraz – I am 20 years old and I am currently a senior at Florida International University. I am double majoring in Finance and International Business and I am obtaining a certification in Spanish Translation and Interpretation. I am a fraternal twin but before you ask, no sadly we do not look alike 🙁

I was born in Colombia but I have lived in Miami for 18 years, therefore this is the city I call home. I love the sun, the beach, the culture and especially the plethora of food we have at our disposal in this city and yet Miami is so much more. I began to start exploring the different aspects of my city later in life and boy was I sadly mistaken to think that there was not much more to it.

I am very optimistic, I believe in the kindness of humanity and I know that each and everyone of us have something to offer the world – whether your world is a small town or the entire country. To me this class is a once in a life time opportunity because we always seem to be too busy to stop and appreciate the little things that make this city great. Therefore, I am beyond excited to learn about the city I call home, meet new people and expand my knowledge on the culture that influences my everyday life…. welcome to Miami in Miami.

Exploring Miami One Metro Stop at a time

Come to think of it, Miami is a city like no other in the world, it is a different breed and rarely fits into the rest of the country, but in this lies its great potential. Our city is filled with history, culture, diversity and lots pleasures. It is a city that is always on the go and as rich as it is – we have one great disadvantage; TRAFFIC. Public forms of transportation are not popular and our city is not designed for their success, our sidewalks are narrow, our bus routes are not exclusive and “walking distance” is minimum a mile away. 
In our first excursion of the semester we experienced first-hand what it feels like to use public transportation and public transportation alone to get around the city and I can say that there is an immense amount of untapped potential in this resource. Besides reducing our environmental footprint and being more cost effective, the interactions we have, the sights we see and the things we learn along the way cannot be beat. 
While going through the city there was a common theme present in every piece we saw and place we visited. We aren’t a single whole but rather bits and pieces put together, we are unique and rich in culture, taste and ideologies. We are made up of the people who impact us, the moments we live and the cultures we merge together to make one. Professor Bailey said “we are cultural appropriation” we take a little from everything that comes our way and we are shaped by it. We aren’t smooth clean cuts, instead were uneven and a little rough around the edges but that gives us character. We see this theme in artist like “El Greco” who’s paintings hang in the Lowe Art Museum in the University of Miami and Purvis Young who’s mural is found in the Northside Station of the Miami metro .
While visiting Vizcaya we were able to see the perspective outsiders had of Miami  back then and one that is still very prominent today – A place of pleasure, a city where decadence is normalized and heathenism is praised, a place where man can play God. For the most part we have played along with this side of Miami and we’ve become popular for it, from our beaches to our nightclubs and it was really interesting to see how even long ago this was the goal. 
One of my favorite stops was in Over town, this place was filled with history, culture and at the same time the reality of what it means to live in a poor community. We saw historic buildings like the house of the first African American Millionaire! And we got to taste the flavor of their dishes! Jackson Soul food was a restaurant that served more than just a plate of food, they served an experience – from their décor to the service, they made us feel welcomed and they enjoyed our company. Their food was authentic, it was filled with flavor, it made you want to get your hands dirty and dig in! It lived up to the name “SOUL FOOD”. 
Throughout the day I walked through a city I called home yet I do not know and it made me more excited for what’s to come for the rest of the class. Please enjoy my picture, a depiction that we Miamians aren’t a single whole, but pieces put together just like the rest of our city. 

-Blanca J Alcaraz

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