Last week, I witnessed a fascinating scene at a coffee shop. A woman in the checkout line didn’t realize she had left her wallet in the car until after the barista rang up her order. The woman was clearly distressed, but before she could make the embarrassing run back to the parking lot, an older gentleman behind her in line said “Hey, its okay. I’ve been there. Let me pay for it.”
What would the world look like if everyone paid it forward?
First, let me explain what paying it forward truly means. To pay it forward is to perform a good deed and in return, others do something good for someone else. In a world where everyone paid it forward, people would invest in their own communities. This could result in small businesses, community centers and schools all thriving, while issues like poverty and crime could decrease. In fact, a recent study from New York University found that in a city of 100,000, each new nonprofit community organization lead to a 1 percent reduction in violent crime.
Here’s my question to you: What would our campus look like if everyone paid it forward for the rest of the quarter?
For some students, the word ‘pay’ can be intimidating. But there are so many good deeds that are inexpensive or can be accomplished for free:
- Hold the door open for the next person.
- Let someone behind you in line go ahead of you.
- Smile at another student or instructor.
- Give someone a compliment.
- Lend a classmate a pencil.
- Help someone navigate a problem.
- Help a friend edit a paper.
- Throw away stray paper towels and garbage in the restroom.
- Donate your books, rather than sell or throw away.
- Help your professor re-arrange desks before or after class if necessary.
- Leave paper behind for the next person to use at our campus public printers.
- Donate blood at a blood drive.
- Sign up to tutor a child.
- Go to a poetry slam and clap — or snap — for someone.
- Pick up litter or trash that you see around campus.
- Write a letter of things you love about your friend, family or significant other and give it to them.
- Congratulate someone on their workout at the University Student Y.
- Offer to spend up to $5 on the next person’s order at Starbucks.
- Ask your professor if you can bake a batch of cookies for the Midterm exam.
- Buy a few extra scantrons to hand out to classmates.
- If you are an instructor, write a letter of recommendation for a student.
My challenge for UW Tacoma is to try any of these good deeds, or any other ones you can come up with while on campus this quarter. If each Husky pays it forward, we can make our campus better place.