A-Level 2023 Features: Serving From The Heart

Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Chandrasekaran Shreya (24S06A), Fiona Ting (24S06A), Jermaine Lee (24A01A), and Tay Yu Ning (23S06E)

Faith Ho Enki

For Faith Ho (22A01A), getting to know stories from communities outside of her own has always been the core of her motivation for service. A narrative-driven person, she feels that stories are the bridges between people. “I’ve always wanted to get out of the bubble I was in. In JC, we’re often caught up with schoolwork and commitments, but there’s a much bigger world out there and it’s worth it to step out and talk to different people.” 

Her passion is reflected in the many community service projects she participated in, where she harnessed her linguistic talent to share the stories of people from underprivileged communities and allow others to better connect with and understand them.  

One of the projects Faith helped to start was Project Biscuit, a community service project aimed at improving rest spaces for school custodians. Starting small, they spent six hours cleaning up the school gardening shed in their first meeting with the gardeners. By getting to know the gardeners as people and learning more about their stories and needs, Project Biscuit was able to create tangible change in the school custodians’ lives. 

In another project, Project Treehouse, Faith wrote a report on opportunities for the future of migrant worker dorms, presenting their work at industry events. She was also a member of Project Arcadian, a reading programme aimed at improving literacy in underprivileged children through cultivating good reading habits. “When we get to know people’s stories, we get to know about them as people too.”

Faith’s work with Project Treehouse was featured on the Ministry of Manpower’s Facebook page

Aside from her community service projects, Faith also served as the Vice-Chairperson of Raffles Press and was a dedicated member of the Peer Helpers Programme. Juggling so many commitments in JC was certainly no mean feat. Why then, did Faith dedicate so much of her time to serving the community? “I felt like I was in a position now to do something to serve, so I just went for it; if I have the capacity to cause some kind of change, I’d like to do that.” 

Good communication and organisation was key for Faith to work effectively with team members to achieve their objectives. “My whole life is on Notion,” she laughs. She also credits her “great team members” across various community service projects for helping her get through the “blur” of JC life by always being understanding and supportive. 

To keep her schedule organised, Faith used Notion to keep track of all the work she needed to finish. 

A strong believer in advocating for the unheard, Faith stresses the importance of recognising that the perceived needs of a community do not always align with their actual needs. “Always get to know the people you’re serving and make sure what you’re doing is what they want or what is helpful for them,” she advises.

Faith with the children from Project Arcadian

Most crucially, Faith maintains that it is important not to be discouraged if change does not happen immediately, since both short-term and long-term change are valuable in their own ways. 

“Don’t be afraid to start!” she adds. “Service starts with wanting to do something small, and as you go into it, you’ll find other needs and gaps to be addressed.”

Nyx Iskandar

An avid anime fan, a manga artist, a coding enthusiast – these are some of the many facets to Nyx Iskandar (22S06G), whose enthusiastic and thoughtful insights on her VIA journey underscored her attitude towards community service. 

From amateur coders fumbling with online tutorials, to manga/anime artists tirelessly hand-crafting individual frames for the next big hit, Nyx’s efforts in service aim to alleviate the burdens of the communities she is part of. In fact, it was encountering these obstacles first-hand that kickstarted her efforts at aiding the community.

Her passion for coding began with the post-examination boredom of Secondary 2 and an unassuming software development advertisement. As an amateur coder traversing the likes of Code Academy and Python, she had noticed how ‘pristine’ the lessons were, entailing detailed, succinct steps to learn a specific code. 

However, she says with bemusement, they had struck her as “terrible”. What point is there to learning the ‘how’ of a code, but not the ‘why’?

Naturally, that led to her first outreach effort: NexLiber (which, perhaps to the shock of many, was launched near the GP CTs)–a platform with workbooks providing both detailed steps and explanations for codes. 

A first look at NexLiber, outlining the platform’s goals

Notably, a Discord user had directly reached out to her, conveying their gratitude and crediting Nyx’s workbook as the inspiration behind one that they created. It is precisely this tangible ripple effect–empowering individuals to propagate a chain of service–that drives Nyx’s service.

Her unique take on coding doesn’t stop there. As the leader of the VIA ‘Code for Hope’, she spoke about her aspirations for it, “I want to enable those who wanted to learn [coding], but didn’t have the means to do so.” Recognising the exorbitance to learning coding, she aimed to increase its accessibility and introduce it to unprivileged children.

Nyx speaking at an REN sharing this year on technology and entrepreneurship

Beyond JC, her service efforts continue, with writing a script for the PE module selection system and launching the new-and-improved NexLiber 2.0. Not only does she continually empower aspiring coders, but she has also managed to create a community for professionals to engage in productive, skills-sharing discourse.

Besides lending learners a helping hand, her efforts also aim to reduce the (inhuman) workload borne by experts in diverse industries. 

While exploring her interests in drawing manga and watching anime, she inevitably learned about the animation industry’s challenges. “Japanese animators work 12 to 18 hours a day for  minimum wage,” she remarks, disbelief and injustice evident in her voice. Equipped with further research, she decided to automate the process of translating manga scripts to visual, moving frames.

The award-winning machine-learning system segments animation panels, identifies faces and connects them to speech bubbles, and produces an easy-to-read, concise text file. In time, she plans to launch this system to Japan; though this is no small feat, her passion attests to her willingness to see this through to fruition.

When asked for a final piece of advice for service-oriented juniors, she quickly notes the sobering reality of students: heavy workloads and finite pockets of time–“You [should] know your limits and when to study.” 

She had spent Y5 and the start of Y6 working on the latter, where the A-levels were not as pressing. Ever the pragmatist, she notes, “There are the things [that] you have to prioritise, and the things that you love.” Indeed, our passions may be confined by our role as students. Even then, with proper time management and a clear direction, our service efforts can surely be fruitful, like Nyx’s.

If you are stirred by Nyx’s passion to both learn and teach, and wish to support her efforts, head on to NexLiber – featuring free, creator-friendly workbooks aiming to unpack coding in detail – and NXpyre – connecting interested individuals with professionals in a plethora of fields and job experiences, all via animations.

462240cookie-checkA-Level 2023 Features: Serving From The Heart


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