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Nesrin and Houda Bourbia, founders of Backpack2school, arrived in Switzerland as refugees from Algeria at the age of 8. The twin sisters are aware of the difficulties faced by migrants in the education system and understand the importance of creating inclusive classrooms. It is through their firsthand experiences that they felt compelled to create a change in this landscape and encourage diversity and multiculturalism within the education space, workplaces and beyond. 

In October 2022, Backpack2school launched their long-anticipated art exhibition project called ‘Einreisedatum’. The term ‘Einreisedatum’ translates to ‘date of entry,’ a term which refers to the date immigrants and refugees first arrive in a new nation. The labyrinth-like art installation features ten portraits of young people with migrant backgrounds. Each portrait tells a unique story from the perspective of the subject. The mazes within the artwork represent the many paths an individual can take in the Swiss education and the systemic hurdles that are often faced by immigrants on their journey to success. 

The installation features works created by the talented artist Stephanie Kunzli Ycaza. Stephanie has been an independent artist for over five years, specialising in oil painting. She now takes a particular interest in digital painting and this style is what she used to create the pieces for the Einreisedatum series. Using an app called Artivive, visitors are able to experience a new dimension of the artwork, bringing these incredible stories to life through augmented reality. 

This project has been an incredible success thanks to the many people who worked tirelessly to realise our vision. The opening night took place on October 29th at the Impact Hub in Basel, where guests were treated to an introduction by Nesrin and Houda followed by keynote speakers, a panel discussion and finally a guided tour by the artist herself. It was a spectacular evening filled with networking as well as Apéro and music at the Lora Basel. The panellists who took part in the opening event work in the arts, business, politics, media and society and came together to discuss the importance of diversity for Switzerland and how we can achieve more equal opportunities in our society. 

Following the opening event, the installation was open for two weeks at the Bahnhof Basel SBB, with a further two weeks held at FHNW Muttenz Campus. During this month-long exhibition, the project received incredible feedback from visitors, as well as extensive radio and online media coverage. We were also honoured to be nominated for the youngCaritas Award 2022, a movement which recognises projects being initiated by young people who are committed to a social and sustainable future. 

What started as a passion project envisioned by two sisters, turned into a reality thanks to the incredible sponsors and supporters who believed in the vision and what Einreisedatum could achieve. We are so grateful to everyone who was a part of this project, as well as each and every person who visited the art installation. We look forward to seeing where we can take this in the future as we continue to strive for a more inclusive Switzerland. 

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Backpack2school supports sustainable development goals: