“Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.”
Juliette Camejo is a 3rd year Senior at the Honors College of Florida International University. She graduates Fall 2020 with a double major in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and a minor in Psychology. Juliette is on the pre-med track and hopes she one day becomes a physician. As a medical scribe, her current job, she is able to work side by side with doctors and truly learn while appreciating the art of helping others.
Juliette is also a part of the organization Beta Beta Beta (Tri-beta) in FIU, a biological honor society that revolves around “extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research.” She has a team captain role for Tri-beta in the Relay for Life event that FIU hosts every year for the American Cancer Society. As team captain, Juliette will lead her fellow betas to participate and fundraise in the fight against cancer.
Finally, Juliette is a travel fanatic. When she is not at school or working, she’s on vacation. She loves learning about new cultures and visiting all the beautiful places this world has to offer. Juliette will complete the Honors Spain trip in June 2020 taught by Professor JW Bailly.
Below you will find her As Texts, where she shares her thoughts on the various places she will visit this semester.
Vizcaya as Text
“In or Out” by Juliette Camejo of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
From the Villa’s beautiful culturally enriched rooms to the expansive Italian Renaissance formal gardens, Vizcaya is a thought-provoking wonder. The two hours I spent walking through the estate could be best described as a battle in my head. How was I supposed to choose my favorite part?
The Tea Room (Loggia)
After much consideration, there was something about the Tea Room I couldn’t quite forget. Immediately entering the room, the towering stained-glass windows and doors grasp your full attention. Although stained glass has been made since ancient times, it did not gain recognition until Christians and Catholics began using it in churches as a form of “holiness.” James Deering traveled through Europe on numerous trips with the purpose of collecting ideas for his new Florida estate. At the top and center of the masterpiece, one of the many caravels on the estate is beautifully illustrated with a variety of colors. “The Caravel” is used to depict the Age of Exploration from the 15th-17th century, where the Pilgrims and conquistadors from Europe sought to spread their religious views with the New World. Through its design and array of colors, the Loggia, specifically the glass structure, serves as a contact point between the inside and outside of the Estate.
While standing on the sleek marble floors in the Loggia, soaking up the warm ambience as sunlight shines through the glass panels, you can’t help but reflect on the beauty of the gardens. Are you in the Villa, or out in the field? It almost seems like you can smell the grass and feel the breeze. Regardless of the specific location in the Estate you’re admiring at the time, your senses are continuously embodying the whole essence of what Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is.
MOAD as Text
“Our Very Own Lady Liberty” by Juliette Camejo of FIU at Museum of Art & Design
Museum of Art and Design in Miami, Florida, located in the Freedom Tower, is often considered the “Ellis Island of the South.” Although rich in history and on the top of my “places to visit in Miami” list, this reflection will hold more focus on the monument that is the Freedom Tower rather than the pieces in the museum.
History of the Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty
To understand the importance of these landmarks, it is crucial to know the history behind them. Originally built in 1925 from European influence, the Freedom Tower was the headquarters for The Miami News. This all changed in the early 1960s, when it became a processing facility for all the Cubans fleeing Castro’s regime.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from a French Sculptor as a symbol of friendship between the two nations, is located on Liberty Island, providing a dignified welcome to those arriving on Ellis Island. Similarly, in 1892, years before the Freedom Tower, the United States government opened an immigration station on Ellis Island, what would serve as a processing facility for immigrants “in search of a better life.” Internationally recognized, Lady Liberty holds a special place in the hearts of many, and I have yet to meet a person who does not know who she is.
This is not the case for the Freedom Tower. I am ashamed to say that even while living in Miami, I just recently learned the history of the Freedom Tower. Upon visiting the Freedom Tower, I now truly recognize the power and significance this building holds for the many Cubans who fled their birth country with nothing but hope.
The Symbol of Freedom and Democracy
Just like the Statue of Liberty was a welcoming symbol of freedom and democracy, the Freedom Tower was a turning point in the lives of many Cuban refugees. The majority of immigrants that came through Ellis Island were from eastern and southern Europe. They came fleeing religious intolerance and poverty caused by their oppressive governments, identical to the Cuban’s feeling Castro’s communist regime and arriving in Miami. Many of these people had firm beliefs that democracy would save them, and this served to be true in both Lady Liberty and the Freedom tower for years to come.
My Personal Reflection
As a Cuban, I am proud to be a part of such an accepting nation even when I find myself in disagreement with aspects of the current policies and government. Although my immediate family did not find refuge in America through the Freedom Tower, I am beyond grateful that many had the opportunity to finally find the freedom they so desperately searched for.
Deering as Text
“Glimpses of the Past” by Juliette Camejo of FIU at Deering Estate
Although I’ve grown up in South Florida, I unfortunately haven’t taken the time to visit the Deering Estate. Just from reading the walking tour, I realize it’s a flashback into the past, as if I were flipping the pages of a historical textbook. In the early 1900’s, Charles Deering built on a site preserved by centuries of rich greenery, vibrant wildlife, and an abundance of history. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how expensive it can be to enjoy Miami. It was refreshing to hear that the Deering Estate is one of the few places left that’s free and equally as enriching. Specifically, it displays a stark contrast against the rest of our highly developed city. I understood that the reason it’s hidden so well is because of its lack of visibility. Solution holes and tropical hardwood hammocks are some of the natural phenomena that hides the treasures found on this luxurious estate.
The Tequesta Midden
Beginning with the peaceful Tequesta Native American tribe, their presence can be traced back thousands of years. Even before them, wildlife such as saber-toothed tigers and dire wolves made this land their home. The Tequesta Midden is home to discarded instruments the tribe used for hunting. They had an eye for creativity, catching prey and building their homes by manipulating materials into makeshift tools. Close by is the watering hole where many more animals took their last breath. I take solace in knowing that even with the industrialization of Miami, this specific area has been untouched for thousands of years. There’s peace in knowing a place so meaningful can carry on unchanged and still remain just as important.
The Boat Basin
The Boat Basin, with its different hues of blue and calming sounds, is a special sight. Charles Deering built this area in 1916 with the intent of keeping his two boats safe. Instead, it’s exclusive harboring allowed for the peaceful congregation of marine life. If lucky, you can find yourself face to face with manatees, dolphins, and even sharks. A beautiful addition to this, is the migration of birds that occur every sunrise and sunset. I can imagine witnessing the enormous crowd of white wrapping the bright blue water like a sheet. The sun would shine against the green “fingers” that point towards the bay. I’d look out towards them as the last golden rays descend into the water, appreciating that I’ve just taken part in history myself.
South Beach as Text
“The True Culture” by Juliette Camejo of FIU at South Beach
South Beach has always been the party place. As a kid, I would daydream of my future beach days with friends, and as I got older those dreams became a reality. Eventually, I was spending my summers on Ocean Drive, soaking up the sun with my girls, and hitting up the restaurants nearby. Not once did I stop to think about how that day might’ve been like 100 years ago. After reading this walking tour, I have all sorts of questions in mind now.
Carl Fisher “discovered” what is now Miami Beach in 1910. He believed it to be a “mosquito-infested wasteland” and quickly made it his mission to transform the area. What many people don’t know is that this land was already occupied. Originally it was a small interracial town, where everyone knew each other. With industrialization began the influx of racism, and soon enough African American’s were not allowed in public areas, like the beach. Fast forward to 2020 and lingering signs of ignorance still follow. Areas like Art Deco, rich in history and unique art, have seen ugly fates as well. If it weren’t for the efforts of the Miami Design Preservation League, most of this area would’ve become another “Condo Canyon”. This part of South Beach is urbanized into a bland location that only attracts its tenants.
It’s no secret that minorities and the less fortunate are the reason Miami is so unique. Yet the glitz and glamour that attracts our tourists is also the reason these communities are overlooked. Although segregation was abolished, many “Condo Canyon” investors still find ways to suppress the voices in our community. They gentrify these areas, pushing minorities further out, in hopes of gaining deeper pockets. South Beach showcases a melting pot of artists who immerse themselves into the arts they produce. Our diverse heritage is what makes us so attractive. Driving natives away only masks our true culture.
History Miami as Text
“Frozen in Time” by Juliette Camejo of Florida International University at HistoryMiami Museum
A plethora of knowledge remains safeguarded by this museum’s walls. The HistoryMiami Museum is a staple attraction in downtown. It houses artifacts that can be dated back centuries ago, while simultaneously showcasing the history of South Florida. As a kid, I always enjoyed my trips here. My mom would wake me up early on Saturday mornings to make our drive from Hialeah. I’d gaze out the car window, watching others zoom by. Arriving just as shocked as the time before, I could never quite get over the size of this museum.
“Miami, The Magic City” is a collage of photographs that show the development of my beautiful home. I immerse myself in the photos, paying particular attention to the beginning. Early settlers can be seen posing against the barren background. They smile next to dirt roads, unaware of the changes that would soon come. My favorite aspect of this museum is its transparency. Instead of masking our truths, HistoryMiami shows the dark paths that lead us to where we are today.
Revisiting Tequesta History
The “Miami Circle” focuses on my favorite tribe of Native Americans, the Tequesta people. Lost in history, the Tequesta were the first natives to shape South Florida. In 1998, a construction site discovered this circle of holes that spread over 38 feet. Some of the artifacts found inside can be dated back to thousands of years ago. It’s believed that the Tequesta people built this structure for ceremonies and political motives. The displays highlight foreign objects, preserving them for decades to come. At the Deering Estate, I was able to discover where the Tequesta people hunted and lived. Yet here, it’s as if they never left. The Tequesta remain frozen in time, along with other relics from Miami’s past.
A deeper journey inside showcases a trolley from the 1920’s, a technology invented over half a century ago, after the Second Industrial Revolution. Follow into the next room and you will see the “Gateway to the Americas” exhibit, where the jaw breaking stories of people who travelled to Miami for a better life are revealed. It’s hard not to lose yourself in the past.