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An account of a grant recipient’s experiences


Today, we feature an account by a young Swiss person abroad who grew up in Brazil. Paulo Wirz came to Switzerland as an 18-year-old to discover his grandparents’ native country. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Zurich University of the Arts (ZhdK).

“I was born in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, but grew up in a small town with the exotic name of Pindamonhangaba. There was no cinema, theatre or shopping centre, and the only museum closed down, but there were outdoor activities to enjoy. […] I encountered Switzerland for the first time in Pinda, as my grandfather’s chair was in our living room. […] I would never have thought at that time that I would ever learn to speak my grandparents’ language. But straight after high school I had the chance to visit Switzerland for the first time in 2008 […] after deciding to study photography. First, however, I had to do military service, where I was trained as a paramedic at the recruit school in Airolo. […] So, I began my degree in Lausanne and learned to speak French fluently. Everything was going according to plan. However, I was unable to work enough because of studying full-time and would have been forced to drop out of my course due to a lack of money. My parents were unfortunately unable to provide me with much financial support, so I searched the internet for foundations. After lots of rejection letters, I came across AJAS (now educationsuisse) and finally saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the support of educationsuisse and a grant from my home canton of Zurich, I was able to put all my energy into studying.

I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity. Without the support of the educationsuisse staff and the grant office – which also helped me transfer to ZhdK – I would probably be somewhere else now. […] The land of my grandparents has shown me so much and opened up so many prospects. All the different cultures and languages in one country taught me how important tolerance is and how well people can live together. It has definitely had a positive impact on my development. It is here that I first realised that you have to pursue your dreams and never give up.”

Paulo Wirz wrote this article on his experiences for our 2015 annual report. You will find the annual report and his full article (p. 20-21) in German on our website at

If you have any questions about education in Switzerland, please contact our staff in Berne via email, by telephone or visit in person (by appointment). Our employees speak German, French, English, Italian and Spanish. |

Tel. +41 (0)31 356 61 04

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