Miami In Miami: Daniel A. Perez

Hey, my name is Daniel Perez, I’m 19 years old and I am currently a sophomore at FIU. I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering with hopes to continue onto the field of law as an IP attorney.

I am a Miamian born and raised. First generation born in the United States from a Cuban background. I was brought up in the land of sexy people, summer fun year round, and everyone owning a Ferrari or something like that. So of course I wanted to see even more of my home.

I decided to take this course because I’m a bit curious and adventurous. I love learning the ins and outs of things and what better thing to learn about than your own home. I’m hoping to learn about things I didn’t even think you could find here in Miami, and I’m looking forward to the adventures we’ll go on together.

Miami As Text (’19-’20) by Jessica Horsham

Jessica Ann Horsham is a currently studying international relations at Florida International University, and is in her senior year as an FIU Honors student. She is heavily interested in pursuing a career in law, with current aims to focus on human rights and injustices within the justice system. Though her career will eventually divulge her in tons of paperwork, Jessica loves to explore the outdoors, exercise, and be near the beach; traveling is one of her favorite things to do as she loves to emerge herself in different cultures and truly learn about what makes each place special. Her current endeavor, the Miami in Miami class taught by John W. Bailly, will take her on this journey of emerging her in her very hometown to discover all of its unknown and secret places. These are her Miami as Texts.

Metro As Text

The Melting Pot: Connected by Jessica Horsham of Florida International University traveling via Miami-Dade Metrorail on September 11, 2019.

When people think about Miami, it is always the typical beaches, late night clubs, and other debauchery that is associated with the memory. When people try to describe Miami, it then focuses on the people who live here, which is always essential, they describe it as a melting pot of different races, religions, walks of life, and ethnicities. However, what people fail to realize is that this very concept is reflected in the city itself, its layout and its neighborhoods; and on September 11, 2019, we were able to fully explore this via the Miami Dade Metrorail, a vein that runs through the heart of Miami and its neighborhoods. In the 1980s, the metrorail was adding more stations and expanding in the post-World War II economic success that the U.S. was experiencing. However, as Miami’s city planning has proven to be inefficient, the city continued to grow and the metrorail simply could not keep up—the citizens needed more, and this has pushed the dependency of most people towards cars and private vehicles. Today, the metrorail, metromover, and the metrobus struggles with ridership as these other means continue beat out the rails despite it being less efficient. Today, we got to experience the true Miami for what it is, beyond its people, through the most efficient means: the metrorail. From the Lowe Art Museum, hosting two of the most incredible El Greco pieces—who was a Greek painting in Spain, how Miami is that—to Vizcaya’s unique blend of Europe, the Americas, and Tequestas to Overtown’s amazing Jackson’s Soul Food, these spots are all representative of the true Miami melting pot. Each neighborhood filled with some history that links all of us “Miamians” to one another and to our land. Too often we feel as though we never have any linkage to the city where we reside and call our hometowns, however, if you ever just take the time to look, as we did, you too will find your roots in Miami. 

Miami in Miami: Maria Cruz

Photo by Alex Gutierrez (CC by 4.0)

Maria Cruz is a senior at the Honors College at Florida International University majoring in International Relations and minoring in Marketing. She is looking forward to graduating in the Spring of 2020 and furthering her education at a graduate school. Fresh from her study abroad trip she completed this past summer in France with Professor Bailly she is in the midst of completing her final year at FIU. Below are her reflections of the Miami in Miami class she is participating in this academic year through the Honors College.

Miami Metro as Text

Photos and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

“Redefining Miami,” by Maria Cruz of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019

For many, art is viewed as the height of a society’s culture. Whether it has historical relevance or ties to the modern scene, a city’s association with art has been a defining factor in its cultural value — and consequently, an individual’s appreciation of these locations. Despite Miami being one of the United State’s most popular metropolitan areas, and my home for the past 17 years, it is a place I took for granted for many reasons. For one, it lacked the cultural appeal and charm that other cities, such as Los Angeles and New York City, are renowned for. For example, in terms of the arts, we are seemingly lacking in widespread access and appraisal. As someone who spent the summer throughout Europe studying the origins of some of the most important artistic developments in the world, the opportunities to view the masterpieces of Monet, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio on a regular basis is something I have increasingly mourned. In many parts of the world, art, in all its forms, is something that is greatly appreciated by the public and largely celebrated; however, the same can not be said for Miami. Or well, that is what I used to believe. Throughout our class excursion day, it became even more clear to me that I could not be more wrong.

With art pieces strung throughout metro station stops and university museums, the city of Miami is investing in enhancing its culture, and in turn, redefining its residents’ cultural values. In our modern-day, art is not limited to the banquet halls of châtalets and internationally known museums for the privileged to visit, but it has transformed to become a public act for all to enjoy. Whether it be the domino themed walkways or recreations of sculptures, art has increasingly become accessible in the city, opening many to the importance of it. For many years, I, and millions of others, merely associated Miami with the art deco style that dominated the look of its downtown area. However, I now know that the city’s ties to art have deeper historical connections, going back several centuries to the times of El Greco. Even more recently, artists such as Purvis Yung have contributed to the contemporary art scene in Miami, reforming people’s views on modern art and its association with the city. I was truly astonished at just how much we discovered by spending just one day using the metro. While I cannot help but lament over all the years and experiences I missed, I cannot be more excited to discover the other hidden gems of Miami and form the relationship with my home that I have missed out on these past 17 years.


Lesly Garcia was born in a small town in Florida amongst the winter of 1999. An american to some but a Hispanic to many, coming from both lovely parents who were raised in Cuba and fought to come to the state to build a better future for their daughter. 20 years old and currently a junior at Florida International University. She is doing a double major in English with a Literature track and Fine Arts in Art.

She is a writer, poet, and painter at heart thanks to her parents. Growing up with her nose rooted in a book and deep in her own imagination, it came as no surprise to those who know her that she wants to write a book of her very own one day. Pulling inspiration from her personal adventures growing up, being in love, battling mental health, and the brutal pain of losing it all, she digs deep into her own woes and allows the sorrows to fuel her writing. Lesly still lives in Florida, with her Canis lovers, Hershey and Nini. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys collecting photocards and love letters, baking sweets, shooting on her vintage film camera, playing her untuned guitar, sipping Cuban coffee, and painting on canvas.

She is a stranger, lover, friend, and daughter experiencing the new sight of Miami through the history from the past that has shaped one’s life, to the many variety of cultures found in a city. This is a city where there’s endless possibilities of creating new memories along with the old whether it is through people, place, or things.

Miami isn’t just a city but a home to many, a home where different cultures come together and become one. A home where strangers become friends and friends become family.
Through this class she will experience a new perspective in life, learning through the meanings behind art, what life is in general when it comes to the environment, and the people that makes the city a better place. This class will offer not just to her but also her peers an opportunity to appreciate what they haven’t before.

A quote that matches this class in which she’s always carried with her is “the two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you figure out why”.

Welcome dearly friends to Miami in Miami.


FIU- MIAMI- September 11, 2019.

Oh! dearest love, sweet home of all curious creatures hopes, and joys, and painting miseries.
Tonight, if I may guess, one’s beauty wears a smile of such delight,
as brilliant and as bright as the next.
Each lost in a soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze into the far distance.
Strangers eager to come out and play,
jumping from one town to the next as the bridge is what separates one from the journey that awaits.
A thousand dreams wrapped up in the feverish man who crosses its way from one side of the metro to the next.
It was in the goldenrod of the morning that strangers and I sent wishes up to the heavenly sky, whispered behind crooked teeth and twisted tongues.
The day became a place where our love lived, departing from one unfamiliar place to the next where we once belonged in a distant past.
A silage of what will one day be a nostalgic memory that only we can recall.
I’ve had dreams like this before- and still do
Strangers and I pacing down the winding roads trying to catch up to one another.
Perhaps it was my overwhelming desire for belonging and acceptance that helped me build a home for each passing person.
A home where one can be seen as equal rather than being separated by just a see-through door of a metro.
Differences and alikeness are what creates us as humans, a past history, a present time, and a future that lies ahead of us.
But even now, to this day, my weary bones are still trying to catch up to that dream that seems far away.
Strangers sitting apart from each other never really conversing with one another,
a line that seems hard to be broken whether it is due to color, age, or social status.
If pushed together even for a small period of time maybe it’ll spark some kind of acceptance with one another.
A metro is not only seen to get from one place to the next, it is a place where one can find their next soulmate whether it is through a romantic love or platonic love. A soulmate that can be through music, art, conspiracy theories, politics, etc.
A see-through door may separate one stranger from the next,
However, it only takes one person to break through it. Breaking the chain of what society says who to be friends with and what or who to love.
May this dream consume me whole, for I am a creature of habit just like the next.
Rummaging through the corners of one’s mind, waiting, tenderly, for one to come out and play along.

Art Society Conflict: Matthew Haimes

 My name is Matthew Haimes, I am a sophomore currently attending Florida International University and I am majoring in pure mathematics, although previously I was majoring in bio-chemistry, hoping to be an orthopedic surgeon. Once I realized though that I do not particularly enjoy the concepts behind such a profession, I quickly switched to mathematics to explore what I really enjoyed doing. Because of my love with critical thinking, I always enjoy analyzing and deducing the meaning behind different types of art. My family owns many pieces of fine art which we have placed all around our home, and I have visited many landmarks and museums such as the Louvre, Buckingham Palace, Versailles and the Vatican. I am excited to see more art throughout this class and have the opportunity to learn the meaning behind each piece.

Metro in Miami

Metro in Text: Daniel Perez

The first off-campus meeting for the Miami in Miami class began with us gathering at the Dadeland South Metro Station. Here the class would be one of the few in Miami to purchase a day pass to be able to get around the city via the metro. Public transportation is definitely not the most popular means of transport for Miamians.

Professor Bailly pointed out an interesting observation at our first stop. He talked about the size of the sidewalk, and how here in Miami the sidewalks are generally smaller when compared to those of other major cities and other countries. Considering I have had the chance to travel and visit areas with more emphasis on public transportation, this simple and seemingly minuscule detail about our standards here in Miami surprised me. I had not taken the time to notice the size of our sidewalks because of that reason. We simply don’t walk to our destinations on a regular basis. Miami isn’t focused on its public transportation, and the areas that it does are fairly closed off to people like me that live in the Kendall area. It took me about an hour to reach the station by car, which was the closest stop to my home. The thought of using public transportation instead of a personal vehicle is not a bad idea at all, as a student it would make things easier honestly. I would have one less expense to worry about and there are the ecological benefits to think about. Less cars on the road means less emissions which generally mean a greener lifestyle by having a smaller carbon footprint. I feel like Miami could focus on that instead of its expansion on highways.

Miami in Miami: Vivian Acosta

Photo by Jason Lopez

Hey everyone! My name is Vivian Acosta, and I am 20 years old. I was born and raised in Honduras. I came to Miami for the first time when I was 4 years old, and I would visit periodically since then. Three years ago, I finally decided to move here to attend college. I am currently a student at Florida International University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I have always been very passionate about helping others, and that’s what psychology is all about; therefore, I am still not definite on what I want to specialize in. Sometimes I see myself counseling children, and other times I see myself studying people’s brains (literally). I just love psychology!

Even though I have resided in Miami for a while now, I do not know much about the history, art, controversies, and rich culture this city holds; however, that will finally change! Through the Miami in Miami course, I will learn more about Miami in 16 days than what I have learned in 16 years!

Below you can find my Miami as texts.

Metro As Text

“It’s Okay” by Vivian Acosta of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum & Garden is a breathtaking European villa in the middle of the mangroves. The mansion is filled with art and baroque architecture. Every little detail in it tells a story. At the entrance of the house, a sculpture of a naked man who is covered in grapes and has enough wine to fill up a bathtub greets the visitors. The wine symbolizes abundance, celebration, and joy: the typical stereotype of what life in Miami is like.

This was the home of James Deering, a European businessman, since 1916. It was built for him by his Bahamian workers, who were allowed inside only once a year. The thought of having such hardworking people marginalized and unappreciated makes me feel indignant. Deering made sure he had enough security in his mansion. He wanted to make it impossible for anyone to trespass. He went from having empty moats around his property, to even using cactus as traps around the property to keep people away. The cacti eventually died because they couldn’t thrive in the Miami weather.

Walking down the halls of a mansion that resembles scenes from a princess movie astonished me. It is a whole different concept of Miami’s, and everyone, including myself, admires it. It is a gorgeous place, and it is okay if it doesn’t match the rest of Miami- after all, Miami is characterized by its cultural mix.

James Deering collected European artwork for his home away from home. This man literally brought European pieces to Miami.

As well as Mr. Deering, I am not originally from Miami. I was born and raised in Honduras, and three years ago, I moved to Miami to attend college. I have been homesick since the moment I got here, and I can’t seem to adapt to this city’s fast pace.

Just as James Deering imported paintings, sculptures, furniture, and Vizcaya’s architecture from Europe, I brought my cultural traditions, language, and food with me to feel closer to home as many of us do. I start my day with a café con leche: it soothes my soul. I go on with my day by singing along and dancing to Latin music in the middle of traffic at 7 am, and I cannot call it a day without watching an episode of my favorite telenovela before going to sleep.  After three years of struggling to fit in, I realized what I have been doing wrong: trying to fit in.  Our differences are the beauty of Miami! Each one of us brings in our roots, and it is okay if it does not match our neighbors’: together, we make up a colorful, rich, unique, and diverse garden – Miami.

Miami in Miami: Alexandra Rodriguez

Photo by Audri Rodriguez


Alexandra is a current junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She plans to pursue a degree in Accounting and earn her certifications and licenses to become a CPA. She is an active member of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honor society for Accounting and Finance majors. She enjoys traveling, sports and fashion. Alexandra has explored over twelve different countries and appreciates the culture and lifestyle in each; she believes each country has something special to offer. With plans to study abroad in Paris next summer, she is excited to embark on a whole new journey. 

Fichas by Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Miami Metrorail

Metro As Text

Fichas by Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Miami Metrorail

As I walked beneath the metro line, I couldn’t help but notice the large dominoes painted along the sides. Like most Cubans in Miami, my family and I call these domino tiles “fichas.” With Cuban culture being extremely prominent in our city, it was no surprise these enormous tiles were depicted along the bottom of our metro. As someone who has only ever ridden the Metrorail a handful of times, certain art pieces like this quickly caught my attention. How had I never noticed such grand pieces of art and paintings like this before?

An artist named Bo Droga came up with the idea to paint dominoes along the dull pillars. I believe these paintings reflect Miami culture in a fun, playful way. Playing dominoes is a passion for so many Cubans and other Hispanics in Miami. At most gatherings in my house, the life of the party is typically around the domino table. Fortunately, Droga was able to encompass Miami culture in a large, public area for many to see.

Just like I had never noticed the “fichas” before, I’m sure there are plenty of other remarkable paintings and works in Miami I have casually walked or driven by and never spotted. As locals, we tend to walk past beautiful things and never notice and take in their actual magnificence. The nature, buildings and people we pass everyday seem so mundane to us. As humans, we continue to crave something newer and better. We are constantly searching and traveling far to see different things when in reality, we have such beauty so close to home.

Miami In Miami: Fauzan Sheikh

I am Fauzan Sheikh currently a Junior in the Honors College and FIU School of Engineering. My major is Construction Management and I am currently an Assistant Estimator at Zahlene Enterprises which is a construction company located in Medley, FL. I was born in Karachi Pakistan, raised in South Miami, FL, and I currently reside in Pembroke Pines, FL My goal is to finish my degree as soon as I can to lead my life into a successful career within the construction industry. I have always been very involved with every institution I was enrolled in. During my time in Southwest Miami Highschool (2013-2017) I played Varsity football and my team won the district championship. I was also in Student Government during my senior year in high school. Broward College brought me closer to my religion through the MSA (Muslim Student Association) chapter of Broward College. I became the Vice President and did a great amount of community work alongside my Muslim brothers and sisters. Our MSA did everything from feeding the homeless in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale to the riddance of misconceptions about Muslims through peaceful talks and debates. At Broward College I was also a member of HSC (Honors Student Committee) which not only aided me through opening doors to scholarships and academic success, but I also spread the knowledge I gained to help the students who I studied amongst. I am blessed to have FIU in my own hometown. The diversity here at FIU is outstanding and the opportunities for minorities like me are in surplus. Being an FIU Panther for only three weeks has made me realize how if I choose the correct path, success is just the reach of a hand away.

Miami as text

At 10:30am our class arrived at the Dadeland South Metro rail station to begin our first excursion of Fall 2019. From the minute I stepped foot into this metro rail station I realized how different life is only a 45-minute drive from the city that I live in. Miami is a very populous city with very high vehicle traffic. The Miami Metro Rail system was built as an aid for the people who reside in the city and need safe and time effective transit for basic commute, to/from work and school. I had a sense of attraction from the rattling metro tracks, beeping of car horns, and the smell of fuel combustion, which would drive your everyday individual away. Life in South Miami is truly the fast life.

My first exposure to the arts in Miami was in our very first stop at the University of Miami, to view the Lowe Art Museum. As we entered the museum we were greeted with great respect and the basic rules of the museum were given to us. The rules were set to conserve and protect the amazing artwork that this museum contains. Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541 – Apr 07, 1614), formally known as El Greco was a Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance. Prior to this excursion, I had only learned about who he was and how amazing his works of arts are. Not one but two of his pieces are conserved here locally within the walls of the Lowe Art Museum. Grateful is the way to describe what I was upon being revealed to the works of his art.

Further into our Excursion we exited the metro station onto the Viscaya stop which was the part I was most impatient for. My first attendance at the Viscaya Gardens was when I was only an adolescent with absolutely no knowledge about what this place was. Professor Bailly briefed us in our first-class lecture about what Viscaya was and what it means to us today. The very entrance of Viscaya made me feel as if I am no longer in south Florida but instead somewhere in Europe. Viscaya is the prime example of beauty created with the hands of man, but within the walls of this landmark is a very dark past. Professor Bailly not only presented us with the actual means of the construction of this landmark but also made us realize how normal whatever happened within these walls was during the time it was created. Viscaya was created to be heaven on earth and the concept came from god-like ambition in man.

A city known as Overtown was the next stop of our excursion. We dined as a class at Jackson Soul Food located in the heart of Overtown. The hospitality of the hosts of this family owned restaurant was adjacent to that of the people of Pakistan. Beyond the amazing food and energizing fruit punch was how the family runs this restaurant which such pride and happiness. Our entire class had happy bellies and the owners had great business from us. After dining at Jackson Soul Food, we walked around the corner to Mount Zion Baptist Church. This church was once part of a prospering Overtown before Highway I-95 was built directly through it. Overtown is a primarily Black neighborhood full of welcoming and kind residents. The state of Florida inconsiderately built I-95 directly over the top of this church. There is tons of pollution in the air and the noise of traffic is very bothersome to the residents. When our class was standing outside of the church, we were directly underneath the highway.

The last stop of our excursion was at the Northside Station. This stop was the briefest but not under-appealing by any means.  The Northside Station had a piece of artwork by Purvis Young. I was caught off-guard when I saw this huge mural painted on the wall at the actual stop. After viewing the Purvis Young painting, we had a short post-excursion discussion and I began to miss the class before we even went our own way. I am more than looking forward to the rest of this seminar.