Everyone’s wheels touched down sometime on Friday last week, but we spent the night raiding the grocery section of a Walmart and eating some giant pizza.
The first event on Saturday was a visit to the historic Miami Circle in Downtown Miami, where we learned about the Native American tribe that once lived on the wild coast that has been tamed by high rise upon luxury high rise. The tribal circle and its story taught us a lot about the history of this unique city, and the desecration of many similar nearby sites serves as a reminder of the far-reaching over-development of Miami (which is a “fun” theme that will pop up quite often in our work this summer).
Our highlight from Sunday was our visit to the gallery of Edouard Duval-Carrié , which feels like an artist’s lair from the moment you enter. His art is done with such purpose and unique flair, featuring gorgeous frames that he makes himself, and tons of glitter. He is an eclectic to say the least, and very eager to share the stories behind his breathtaking art on every medium you could possibly imagine.
We unanimously agree that we absolutely love our workplace, Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGM). Their building is brand-new, but more importantly, our supervisor, Nejla, is an amazing public interest lawyer who is the perfect role model for this mostly pre-law group. This summer, in addition to holistically learning about the day-to-day life of a public interest lawyer through intake interviews and court rooms, we will be working on the Mobile Home Advocacy Project (MHAP). The MHAP is all about providing legal advocacy, outreach, and education to mobile home residents — a population of mostly immigrants. In addition to providing legal services through the MHAP, Nejla also assists the mobile home park residents in forming homeowners’ associations (HOA), which empowers the homeowners to better protect their rights as a collective. We were thrilled to get such a unique and focused project, and we look forward to helping this project and these communities as best we can.
José’s Most Memorable Experience
I would say that my favorite, and most memorable, event of the first week in Miami is the Homeowners Association meeting that Jason, Fiona, Nejla, and I attended. It was an optional event, but our intern eagerness got the better of us. You know, aside from the scorching heat, I felt almost at home in this trailer park, as my parents and I currently live in a mobile home. There were Hispanic homeowners from many different countries; Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, and everyone came together to a park meeting to try and resolve the issues they are facing. I felt comfortable talking to everyone, and I felt I did a good job of helping them in the best way I could (directing them to call home inspectors, listening to their complaints, and explaining to them the legal agreement our supervisor had negotiated for them). A lot of the ladies would pull me aside and give me a rundown of the problems they were having at the park. I, of course, told them I would do all I could to get their message across to Nejla, but she, as a lawyer, has little influence over the rules and conditions of the park. While some homeowners were not happy about the negotiation, at the end of the day it was the best option that the homeowners had to avoid eviction. After this experience, I am truly looking forward to a summer filled with amazing experiences, where I will hopefully have more opportunities to connect with the Latin capital of the US.
Fiona’s Most Memorable Experience
For me, the most important part of the first week is the bonding, and for our group, that was through Monopoly Deal. I’m an avid Monopoly Deal player, so when everyone was happy to play, I was excited to teach them! Through the natural progression of the game, we began talking, asking each other questions, cracking jokes, and having a great time. The importance of group cohesion is easy to overlook when we’re constantly learning and experiencing, but harmonious group dynamics really glue everything together. Cheers to a great summer!
Jason’s Most Memorable Experience
Our Friday morning commute was supposed to be as simple as any other day, until the bus we were supposed to take to work never showed up. All the attorneys get together for case review on Friday mornings and we didn’t want to miss it, but luckily another bus came a little while later. While we waited, it started to drizzle, and not 10 seconds after we boarded the bus, the clouds burst forth with all their might. For the entire bus ride we all hoped it would let up before we had to get off the bus, but alas we ended up having to run through the torrential downpour to make it to our office. Umbrellas are usually great, but when the wind is howling and the streets and sidewalks are basically rivers, there’s only so much that can be done. We stumbled soaking wet and out of breath into the meeting room at exactly 9:30, the weekly meeting’s precise start-time, only to find that only one person was even there—a fellow intern. Miami Time runs a little behind schedule, so the meeting didn’t start for another 10 or 15 minutes. Even though we were drenched, we all enjoyed hearing the process of the attorneys deciding which cases to accept. We look forward to more of these behind-the-scenes looks into the legal process, but hopefully with dry socks next time.