... because language brings people together

K5 Stories - The world in Basel

At K5, it sometimes happens that twelve nations are represented in a German class. Our course participants come from over 130 nations and bring their own special past to German lessons. Our German courses build a bridge between their former life with their own language and their current life in the Basel region with the new language. Because when everyone can develop their potential, real diversity is created, which can be used together as an opportunity. Three participants tell their story.

Ahmed Hassan
Ahmed Hassan
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Ahmed from Syria

"The port city of Tartus on the Mediterranean is the second largest goods transshipment point in Syria. From there, a highway leads via Homs and Damascus to Jordan and on through Saudi Arabia to Kuwait. Our company was located on this highway near Damascus. My brother was the boss. We produced around 500 kg of confectionery a day in the stone oven. The 20 or so varieties included harise, mabruma, baklava and kolikivskeer. We used ingredients of the highest quality and best origin. Flour, sheep's milk, semolina, nuts, the unique pistachios from the Aleppo region and lemons. We had built up an excellent reputation and supplied customers from near and far. I studied journalism at a private university and was interested in our country's natural resources: Oil, phosphate, gas, spices, wheat or cotton. I wanted to know a lot ... Where were these treasures delivered and where did the proceeds go? For asking these questions, I was sent to prison for two days at the age of 17 and was then monitored and controlled. Two years later I had to do my compulsory military service, which I completed in the ranks of the police in a prison. There were a lot of dissidents there. I helped many of them and expanded my network of like-minded people during this time. I then went back to work in our confectionery factory. Meanwhile, the political tension increased and I realized that I had to leave my country. In 2005, I settled in Cairo and arrived in Switzerland a few months later. The civil war in Syria didn't start until a few years later. So I didn't come here as a refugee, but I can't go back to my home country because of my political history.

In Basel, I worked as a kitchen assistant in various establishments. I would like to set up my own business here. But I would need various permits and a good knowledge of German. That brought me to K5. I felt very comfortable here straight away and was able to improve my language skills considerably.

The memories of my past life make me sad. I watched from afar as my family and friends lost everything or died in the war. My country was destroyed, including our confectionery business. I don't even have any photos of it."

Interview and text Suzanne Rouden, course leader K5

Hassan from Somalia

A story about escape and arrival 

I fled the civil war in Somalia and came to Switzerland as a refugee in Basel in 1993. At the time, fleeing was the only way for me to save my life. After 6 months in Switzerland, I received an F permit and was able to look for work. I didn't speak a single word of German, but I still found a job in a hotel. I used the money I earned there to pay for my first German course. Another German course at K5 helped me to improve my language skills.

deepen my language skills. I had great course instructors and am still in contact with them today. Today I work for a security company, translate and give courses in non-violent communication. My wish is to spread this craft in Somalia too. I haven't been there since I fled.

Interview, Carolin Reichmuth, Head of InfoPunkt

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Hassan Ismail
"The German course at K5 helped me to improve my language skills." 
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Jetmire attended the sales course and completed an internship at the Coop, where she was subsequently offered a job. This experience of success gave her so much courage and self-confidence that she dared to open her own grocery store shortly afterwards, which she runs successfully.

Jetmire's full story will follow soon.

About us

Through language and interaction we encourage the social and professional integration of immigrants, thus creating the basis for a shared future.


K5 Basel Course Center
Gundeldingerstrasse 161
CH-4053 Basel


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