|Afsaneh Ferdosi Milani|
Afsaneh Ferdosi Milani says she lives by a daily routine. She writes pieces of her thesis every day, and during the weekdays she attends Florence University and works at a gelato shop.
This woman says she is engaged to her husband, believes in herself and is intent on pursuing the highest degree of education.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Afsaneh grew up with strong support from her parents and siblings. Now, this auburn-headed firecracker with olive-toned skin spends her days working and studying in Florence.
“Always my parents said to us, if you want to be an independent person, you have to study. The more informed you are, the more independent [you will become], and character will form within yourself,” Milani said.
Her sisters and experience at an artistic high school influenced her move to Italy, where she is currently working on her master’s degree in Intercultural Studies. Milani plans to pursue her Ph.D. in the U.S.
Milani’s interest in education started at a young age. “Fortunately, I had a very open family and read books.”
Although she experienced the luxury of having support from her parents, Milani says her childhood in Iran was not always easy.
“I was born in 1983. I can’t say I didn’t have a difficult life. I had to have the hijab when I’m out of the house. You know there are many things you want to do, but can’t because the government denies it to you,” Milani said.
This influential time of growing up as a young Iranian woman resulted in a curiosity about other countries and a determination for independence and change.
“When I decided to leave, I saw the difference between that country and this country. I saw what they were doing to my people. I’m always trying to improve the situation in Iran because they have to know what is going on in Iran,” Milani said.
Her life in Florence is strikingly different than the stereotype of an Iranian woman. Milani enjoys going out for dinner and drinks on weekend nights in Florence. “I am very sociable. I try to talk to people.”
Milani met her husband eight years ago in Iran just before moving to Italy. The two met each other after both winning their respective divisions of a climbing competition. Although they partook in an official wedding ceremony, she introduces him as her fiancé.
Milani says once you’re in love, you stay in love. “It doesn’t change anything if you get married. It doesn’t change because of a signature. I have a problem with the wife and husband titles,” Milani said.
Milani says her fiancé is Diest, and despite her Islamic upbringing, she cannot believe in anything but herself. “I am atheist, and on my Iranian card I am Muslim,” Milani said.
Milani shakes her head in disbelief when she recalls how long she’s lived in Florence. It’s been five years.
As she plans to start the next chapter of her life in the U.S., Milani says, “I will miss Florence. It becomes your second country. You know the language, culture and you establish a life here.”
In Tehran, Milani’s father runs a small coat factory for men. She says her mother is just a simple housewife, but Afsaneh Ferdosi Milani is anything but a typical Iranian woman. Milani is a strong, independent dreamer in pursuit of knowledge and freedom from restrictions.