Friday, April 19, 2024

Coronado Dad and Daughter Discover Family Heritage through Experiential TV Show

Valentine and her father Philippe d’Arabian in lavender fields in France.

How much do you know about the intricacies of your family history? Bridging cultures can be a delicate balance in a family where parents have different heritages, as it was for Philippe d’Arabian, who is originally from a small village in France but has lived in the U.S. for 20 years. He and his family were inspired to move to Coronado from Seattle in 2011 to be closer to family, after their four daughters cited the cousin talent show as their favorite part of visiting the previous Christmas.

Philippe’s wife Melissa saw a casting call for the show “How I Got Here” on BYUtv and asked her oldest daughter Valentine, who had expressed an interest in her French roots, if she wanted to apply. “How I Got Here” is a travel show where young adults accompany their immigrant parents back to their country of origin.

Philippe d’Arabian and his daughter Valentine.

“It piqued my interest, so I submitted a video, but didn’t really think it would go anywhere.” She was in her first semester at the University of North Carolina, majoring in Fine Arts and Musical Theater, when she got the news that they had made it to the next round. Six meetings later, they got the call, in March 2023, that they had been selected for the show. Next steps included talking to the story producer multiple times a week to help research their story. “They knew more about our history than we did,” notes Philippe.

While the girls were growing up, the family did travel to France every few years for brief visits. But those trips were filled with getting together with relatives and sightseeing, so this show gave Philippe and Valentine the opportunity for an intentional trip that revealed their family history.

June 2023 found Philippe and Valentine travelling to the South of France for several weeks, with a sparse itinerary, so their emotions would be captured in real time as they learned about their family roots. They discovered that Philippe’s mom had stashed a box of old mementos away that she was never planning to open, but was inspired to do so for this opportunity. His dad also shared family stories that Philippe had never heard.

Not to give too much of the story away — so you can watch it unfold on the show — below are a few highlights of their incredible journey of discovery.

Philippe’s parents with him and Valentine.

Valentine was most moved by the discovery that her great, great grandfather Icek had been in the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he died. Philippe was amazed to discover that he was 51 percent Jewish.

“During every step, we learned so much. It has been a lot to process. I was amazed at how much my parents knew but had never shared,” he reflects.

Valentine and her father Philippe on set.

The two point out that the filming schedule was intense, often requiring them to wake up at 4:30 am and go until 11 pm.

Valentine connected with her Mami Muriel in the kitchen. Photo by: Forté Entertainment
© 2023 BYU Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

“It was definitely not a schedule I was used to, but my curiosity and adrenaline kept me going on this amazing adventure,” remarks Valentine. “I feel so much more connected to my Mami Muriel.” She enjoyed dancing and making French pastry Coca with her and hopes to be able to do that with her family here when she comes home from college this summer.

During the show, one of the outings captured was the day they spent harvesting lavender in the fields. “I even learned to give ‘bee hugs,’” comments Valentine.

Philippe and Valentine enjoyed a day making lavender oil in France. Photo by: Forté Entertainment
© 2023 BYU Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

The show enabled the family to discover many layers of their heritage, both sad and beautiful. It strengthened the family bond and helped create a bridge to their French culture.

Season 2 of “How I Got Here” premiered on February 4, with other episodes taking viewers to countries including Kosovo, Trinidad, Vietnam, Ireland, Kenya, and Cuba. The episode with Philippe and Valentine, “France: Say Their Names,” aired on February 18 on BYUtv and can be watched here.

It is available to stream for free on and the BYUtv app. BYUtv streams for free with no subscriptions, in-app purchases, or ads. Part of BYUtv’s mission is to provide families with more than 2,000 hours of uplifting and compelling programming they can enjoy together.





Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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