Stanford Essay: Today You, Tomorrow Me

What matters to you, and why?

One word: altruism.

Every time I see someone struggling, I take the initiative to ask, “Do you need help?” I’ve said it to classmates, bikers with a flat, and Chinese elderly who needed translation aid.

This has developed into a habit since I read an inspirational story about a man asking for roadside assistance for hours. After thousands of cars flew by, a poor Mexican immigrant family stopped to help. When the family left, nobody accepted any money, and the husband tried his hardest to speak in English, “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Suddenly, I realized that I’ve been in the man’s shoes before. Many teachers have helped me become fluent in English. Numerous tutorial websites have taught me four programming languages. I’ve benefited from other people’s generosity, and it’s time to give back.

In 2011, I began sponsoring the education of a rural Chinese child whose family couldn’t afford his schooling. It’s a small $35 monthly contribution, but the access to knowledge allows him to make positive impacts to the world. Last month, he even taught me some complicated Chinese characters.

I also started a club to help students learn programming, which grew from 5 newbies to 60 coders in two years. Initially, students viewed programming as rocket science, but after I coached through the basics and showed them potential opportunities, they were hooked. Now, many are skillful enough to help me build apps.

Ultimately, the more I help people, the more people will help me.