By Lara Tan (22A01B), Anamika Ragu (23A01A), Cece Cao Chenxi (23A01E)
This year, Raffles Press invited eight Year 7s to share their experiences in JC, whether it be pursuing their interests or persevering through difficulty. We hope that their stories will inspire you and provide a glimpse into the lives of Rafflesians beyond academics.
This is Part 2 of our A-Level 2022 Student Feature.
Afeef Ikhwan B Mohammad A (21A13B)
Not many students would profess an undying passion for studying their Mother Tongue, let alone choose to pursue it at a high level beyond the mandatory ten years.
Afeef Ikhwan B Mohammad A (21A13B) is a clear exception to this norm. Not only did he choose to pursue Malay in JC, he quickly realised his aptitude and passion for languages as a whole, and this took him by surprise through a seemingly cursory experience during his Y4 Gap Semester.
Originally, Afeef’s only aims in signing up for an internship with the translation department of the Ministry of Communications and Information were to gain work experience and hone his love for languages, but he ended up realising how deep this interest was. It was sparked by a task to transcribe a book of government-related terms from the 1960s, with archaic Malay terms that greatly intrigued him. There were also references to defunct government organisations that were unfamiliar, but this reinforced the significance of pursuing languages in today’s age to him.
This drive to learn more about languages and their role in society led him to participate in a slew of programmes in Year 5 and 6. A recipient of the Malay Language Elective Scholarship and a participant in the Malay Language Elective Programme (MLEP), Afeef constantly sought opportunities to enrich and broaden his knowledge in the subject. He was actively involved in the H3 Humanities and Social Studies Research Programme for Malay Language and Literature, where he produced an academic essay under the mentorship of faculty from NUS, and even planned MLEP activities for incoming students.
On top of all this, there was a second field that greatly shaped Afeef’s life in RI— community service. It all began in the first month of JC, when he received a brochure about the Heartware Tuition Programme but initially did not give it a second glance.
However, a few months down the road, Afeef’s teacher said something that was incredibly influential in the decisions he made afterwards. It made him ponder the extent of his privilege with regards to his education or the people around him, who were incredibly supportive of his academic choices. This eventually led him to giving free tuition to marginalised students through the aforementioned programme, stepping up to the role of tutor leader.
“Knowledge that isn’t shared with others is completely useless.”
When asked how he balanced all these commitments with schoolwork, Afeef admitted that it is just not possible to “do every single thing [you] want to do”, and highlighted the importance of knowing how to prioritise and focus on aspects of life important to you, instead of trying to do everything humanly possible.
Afeef would like to thank his teachers, particularly his civics tutors Mr Kamal and Ms Stacy Tan for their unwavering support, as well as his friends who stuck with him all throughout his JC life.
Teo Jun Ning, Chloe (21S07A)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fundamental part of the Asian Childhood Experience is learning a musical instrument; most often the violin or the piano. More often than not, this is due to parents who want their children to attain a “well-rounded” education (as well as a more impressive resume).
In an environment where this phenomenon can hardly be described as unusual, Chloe’s story stands out as a testament to her remarkable drive and passion.
As a JAE student, Chloe already had to contend with the unfamiliar and highly-competitive academic environment of RI. Her decision to take H2 Music was therefore an unusual one, especially since she had never taken it as a subject in school before. Furthermore, she only had a Grade 6 certification unlike many of her peers who were already pursuing their diplomas.
Nevertheless, after just one year, Chloe emerged as the top student for Music at the Year 5 Promotional Examinations. In her course of study, Chloe also composed a total of seven compositions for a wide range of instruments.
Ever humble and disciplined, Chloe owes her progress to a combination of her own hard work and help from others. She recalls how she was “very lost” in the first few lessons, to the point where she had to go home and do her own research on topics which had been covered in tutorials, all of which came like second nature to her peers. She even turned to Youtube tutorials to bridge the gaps in her learning, and sought help from her tutors.
However, as anyone with an interest in pursuing the arts professionally might relate to, Chloe has acknowledged that although a career in music might still be far on the horizon, she is still determined to further her passion for it in any capacity possible. Moreover, it is not her only area of interest; Chloe also has an extensive background in volunteering and social work.
During her time in RI, Chloe was an active member of the school’s Interact Club where she worked in teams to initiate ad hoc community projects to raise awareness for underserved communities, such as latchkey kids.
“Being part of Interact opened my eyes to marginalised communities in Singapore, people who don’t receive due appreciation for effort and contribution they put in”, Chloe opined.
“There’s so much beauty in getting to know a stranger’s story, and who knows, it might even be the start of a friendship with them.”
Her passion for the community doesn’t end there. As part of the student group Project Perspectives, she even published two children’s books on the migrant worker experience in Singapore.
The idea was originally conceived as part of her group’s Project Work submission. She and her group-mates did not want their project to just exist as a lifeless, theoretical proposal with no impact on the wider community. “It just didn’t really sit right with us”, she quipped.
Suffice to say, Chloe has had a rather well-balanced Raffles experience, constantly striving to honour both her passion for music and the community, even as the A-levels drew near. When asked how she coped during those stressful times, she emphasised the importance of discipline and self-control, but also one’s mindset. Viewing her numerous commitments as positive outlets for her energy helped her to maintain her stamina without getting burnt out.
She recounted a particularly nail-biting episode in her A-level journey; during the first week of all her main papers, she also had an ABRSM theory exam to sit for that very weekend. Rather than succumbing to panic and procrastination, Chloe diligently set aside one hour every day to study for the theory paper, and focused the rest of her time on her main papers.
For her exciting Rafflesian journey with all its highs and lows, Chloe thanks her family. her school friends and even her friends and leaders in Church who believed in and encouraged her.
So to any Rafflesians, past, present, or future, who are considering taking the leap of faith to make a difference or even just give chase to your interests, just remember what these mighty Rafflesians did. And as always, no pressure.
Listen to one of Chloe’s compositions. “The Dark Forest”: a piece on extended techniques, written for solo saxophone, and performed by George Yeo from the Class of 2019.