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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
Hi, my name is Fengxin Ma, but you can also call me Francine. I’m currently a junior at FIU, majoring in Finance. I love to travel and explore new places. Lately, I’ve been quite into photography, I hope to capture different view of Miami through this class.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.