SAJC student on a mission to make the world suck less
Following his Prelims, SAJC student Sazzad Hossain was facing the biggest dilemma of his life. Choosing between his passion and his studies was no easy task. It did not help that he did not clear his Prelims as this added immense pressure onto him to prioritise his studies by his parents and teachers. While most of us would have buckled and given in to the pressure, Sazzad’s determination and resilience made him prioritise his passion. Not only did he enter his startup in business competitions during his ‘A’ level year, he fought for it till the end. This led to its win in Ideasinc Business Challenge 2014 as ‘Most socially responsible startup’. Thankfully, his principal Mrs Lee Bee Yan also played a motherly role to him during this tough time. She helped him plan his study schedule and placed him in night crash courses to make him grasp important concepts quickly. Needless to say, Sazzad did well enough to qualify for a place in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). When asked about his decision to prioritise his passion over his studies, Sazzad replied, “The responsibility of working on something bigger than myself overshadowed all the societal pressure and my individual future.”
So who is Sazzad and what exactly is this passion in him which brought about such a crisis? Sazzad, 21, is the founder of Social Development Initiative (SDI) Academy, a social enterprise that reduces language barriers and communication gaps at the workplace between Singaporean companies and migrant workers.
Having moved from Bangladesh, Sazzad regularly spoke to the migrant workers around his area. He soon realised the huge obstacles and life-threatening issues they faced due to their lack of knowledge of English. They could not talk to doctors, did not know what to say in a bank and most importantly, could not understand safety instructions! One heartbreaking story he shared was that of a worker who had his hand removed after he used his bare hand to cover a gas leak in an air-conditioner, because he could not understand the safety measures given to him in English. This incident made Sazzad determined to continue his efforts to spread the knowledge of English to workers through SDI and in his own words, “make the world suck less”. Sazzad’s journey to creating SDI first began during his ‘O’ level days where he taught two to three people every Sunday. However, demand for his teaching increased during his first year in SAJC and there was not enough space for everyone. To improve his classes, he took a 5 month break from teaching before his promotional examinations to prepare the resources for his students. Following through with efforts such as distributing flyers and giving speeches in the workers’ dormitories, SDI Academy was born with an intake of about 70 students. Its uniqueness lies in the incorporation of the workers’ native language and real life scenarios they may encounter to help them understand the language better, thus attributing to its success.
A strong advocate of social causes, Sazzad believes that all of us can play a part to change the world. “Think about the problems around you, write down ideas to solve them and connect the dots in the future”, said Sazzad. Sazzad definitely serves as a great role model for students and entrepreneurs alike. SDI welcomes anyone to come on board to join their initiative. If you want to find out how you can make a change, do join their internship program at http://www.sdi.academy/interns.html.