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We are going on an adventure – Giovanni Arvaneh’s childhood in an Iranian-Italian family

By the age of seven Giovanni Arvaneh, who is now an international stage and television actor , had already lived in three different countries. In the 1960s Giovanni‘s father travelled from Iran to Germany and despite his illiteracy managed to establish himself as a business man. After some time he met his future wife, a young and beautiful Italian woman, in a random encounter in the streets of Munich. Their son Giovanni was born in 1964 and immediatly given into foster care, because his mother couldn’t cope with the baby. Later Giovanni was taken in by an aunt, who lived in Italy. „These were the happiest years of my life“, Giovanni now says. The happy times ended, when his mother brought him back to Munich. „She told me, it would just be for a vacation and didn’t mention, that it was supposed to be for good“, he says. Since Giovanni’s father was very abusive towards his wife and children, the mother soon after fled to Turkey with the six year old boy. „I had no idea, we were on our way to the airport. My mother was very secretive about the trip and just said we were going on an adventure. When we got on the plane and finally landed in Istanbul, I could not believe this was happening“, Giovanni looks back. Shortly upon their arrival he was schooled into a primary school, which he resented so much, that he spat into his classmates school-books.

„Many children in refugee families make the same experiences. They cannot understand, what is happening to them.

His mother also wasn’t very happy in Turkey and decided to reunite with her husband in Munich, who wellcomed her at the airport with a bouquet of red roses. It didn’t take long and the cycle of abuse started over again. „I tried to make myself invisible to my father and hid behind boxes in our warehouse after school. No other place felt safe.“ Giovanni says. „Maybe that’s the reason,why I became an actor. During my youth I didn’t have the chance to experience the fulness of life. Now I can be anybody, I want to be.“

The quest for identity, belonging and home has always been important for Giovanni Arvaneh. „In my youth I would have loved to be German, but was  just a foreigner for most people. I now see myself more as an observer, than belonging to a certain nationality or group, which is quite liberating“, he says .

„I am a global citizen and live on planet earth.“

Giovanni acts in television series and movies in different countries including Turkey, which he now loves. He also volunteers for a refugee organisation, to make his migration-experiences useful to others.


Photography: Stefanie Rose

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