It's disappointing that none of the external links works anymore, including the Intro to Perl on that Neel hosted on Geocities.
Anyway, MIT ESP was totally one of the most important parts of my life and I owe everything I am today to it. And it was cheap! I can't think of anything else like it: people get to teach whatever they want to high school kids, without regulation, and the students pay something like $10. You want under-privileged students to make it in this world? This is it.
After taking classes for a number of years, I was asked to co-teach in 2002. I was not qualified. I was still in high school. But Neel Pandeya gave me a chance anyway.
Bigger picture: my entire programming career is people taking chances on me for reasons I don't understand. From Ranga Nathan appointing me his first developer at his startup when I was 16 to Neel offering me a co-teaching position (and helping a lot) to Brian, the IT guy at my mom's work, showing me networking basics and introducing me to Linux to John Luciani re-writing my Perl programs, my teenage years were people teaching me about computers just for the fun of it.
I always think about that when hiring: is this a young me? If I take a chance on them, will they struggle and then go on to prosper? I'd love to find out why the people who took chances on me picked me. There might be some wisdom there.