France 2020 As Texts: Kassandra Sanz

OPP Barbecue 2018. Taken from Amy Gonzalez.

Kassandra Sanz is a senior at Florida International University. She is currently majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Psychology and hopes to graduate Fall 2020. Kassandra is a proud Panther and keeps herself busy with full time classes, work and on-campus involvements.

“Memories” by Your Kassandra Sanz of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Taken by me during a visit to Vizcaya 01/31/2020

Vizcaya will always hold a special spot in my heart as this is the place where, like many Latinas in and around Miami, I took my Quinceañera photos. Taking this class trip was extra special to me because it was the 6th year anniversary of the day I took my pictures. I went January 31st, 2014, just one day before my 15th birthday and I returned January 31st, 2020 the day before my 21st birthday. Both, in my opinion, monumental birthdays that represent a period of transition.

Being at Vizcaya on that day came at a much needed time. Turning 21 is pretty big and taking the time to learn more about the history of this place allowed me to reflect on my personal history and how far I had come from the young lady I was becoming at 15 to the young women that I am becoming now.  That is why I chose this photo. It shows symmetry, which for me was like my 15 year old self facing my current, 21 year old self with the pond reflecting all that is around it, as I reflected.

I believe this reflects perfectly with what Vizcaya represents. We see that James Deering took different aspects of European culture and melded it together in one beautiful property. As mentioned during our time at Vizcaya, Deering unknowingly created the Miami style. Miami is well known for being a melting pot of cultures. It is also known for being flashy and – another of Deering’s hopes. This is shown by the sculpture of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy.

“beginnings” by Kassandra Sanz of FIU at MOAD

Taken by me during a visit to visit to MOAD 02/21/2020

Where does it all begin? For many Cuban immigrants in the 1960s the Freedom Tower, now known as the Museum of Art and Design, was their beginning. Originally headquarters to a newspaper, this processing center was a fresh start to over half a million immigrants. They quickly began to populate the local area, settling in near and carving their presence in what we know as Miami.

For those young children who came alone the opportunities were endless. Many were a part of the Peter Pan Project. They were sent all around the United States to be placed in foster care. They were the hope for their families. This is a tremendous pressure that many immigrants families still feel to this day. Below is a short poem, from the point of view of a Peter Pan child.

So this is where it all begins.
I think to myself as I step off the boat
The future is me

Solid land at last.
Here, I am free

A fresh start, a new home
The things to do, the places to see
Here, I am me.

“What you don’t know” By Kassandra Sanz at Deering Estate

Elisa.rolle CC BY-SA 4.0

I am not from Miami and even after spending the past 2.5 years there, I hadn’t been to many of the places we were set to visit this semester. I was super excited to get to know the area better though this course and now that we are in the midst of a pandemic things were made a little difficult. However, through these challenging times came some creative solutions and I am still able to “visit” these places. However, this most definitely impacts the connection to the location. It is one thing to read about these places and another to actually experience them.

Miami’s history is so much richer than I could have ever imagined. Learning about the Deering Estate showed me that there is a whole different side to Miami that I did NOT expect. To see that amount of greenery came as a shock. As mentioned previously, I did not explore Miami while there but, the places I did go to consisted mostly of buildings and more buildings. When most think of Miami the beach, downtown or traffic is what comes to mind… not something life the beautiful landscape of the Deering Estate.

Visitors to the Deering Estate are able to go a bit back in history and see the preservation of the lands that were once home to the Tequesta. There is a Tequesta burial Mound and a fossil site (this one isn’t open to the public unfortunately). Another fascinating thing to see is the rock ridge! Similar to many estates, the houses are quite spectacular. To imagine that the structures before you are well over 100 years old is just breathtaking. They wanted to build a legacy and they did.

“worth it?” by kassandra sanz at historyMiami MUSEUM

File:General view - HistoryMiami - IMG 8123.JPG
Exhibit inside of HIstoryMiami Museum (Public Domain)

Next, we dive even deeper into Miami’s history by exploring HistoryMiami! After going through the virtual walking tour, HistoryMiami became one of the first places I want to visit once we’ve returned to “normal”. First, it is located ON TOP of a library (the MAIN one of the library system in Miami-Dade). Second, it is a HISTORY museum. I personally love exploring museums and history museums are just always so much fun.

As we found out from our previous explorations there is so much more to Miami than meets the eye. Winding through the exhibits you are taken through time. Here we learn even more about the native people who lived in Miami before it was in Miami. Some of the artifacts actually come from the fossil site at the Deering Estate! There are many heart breaking stories as you continue on. From the Creeks and Seminoles to the pioneers to the Afro-communities. The quote “nothing good comes easy” rings true as the hardships and sacrifices of all these people led to the great Miami seen today.

Now that we are currently living history it makes me wonder if the people and the communities showcased really knew the impact they were having. We are all well aware that the times we are living in will go down in history- and are able to make many jokes about this- but did they know that it would be worth it? My guess is that they didn’t know the implications of their trials but hoped that it would all be worth it.

“The beach, ick” By kassandra Sanz at miami beach

File:Essex House Miami Beach FL1.jpg
Essex House, Acroterion CC BY-SA 3.0

Before it was a glamorous tourist destination, Miami Beach was, according to Samuel Hensdale Johnson, actually a place small enough for everyone to know everyone. It was not a swamp as many believe it to have been. This area was actually once filled with mangroves! The beginning of its end came by the hands of Carl Fisher as he was among the first to develop the area. With this development came the unique architectural style of Art Deco. All along Ocean Drive you will see the influence of Art Deco in the architecture. This style is quite unique and well known in the area and you cannot discuss the history of Art Deco without including Miami Beach!

I am NOT a fan of the beach. I grew up just a 15 minute drive away from the coast and spent many weekends there but could never find the appeal. Just the very word “beach” gives me such an unpleasant feeling. So when I moved to Miami I almost made it a goal to get through my college years without ever going to Miami Beach. When I saw that this was on our list of places to visit I was disappointed as I only had a few months left to make it all the way through college in Miami without ever going to Miami Beach. With remote learning and social distancing, it seems as though that may still hold. However, I will admit that, I was quite intrigued by how much more to Miami Beach there was than the beach and the stories I had been told. So who knows, a visit to Miami Beach may very well be in my future.

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