Posted by Dora Dye on Mar 21, 2022
Wendy Shew joined our Club on March 1, 2022. She is the Founder of Building Education, a non-profit organization that serves to eliminate extreme poverty by building 1,000 schools and sponsoring education to spark a legacy of change. On April 25, 2015, an earthquake hit Nepal and damaged 9,000 schools. Since then only 4,000 have been rebuilt. Wendy volunteered three months after the earthquake in disaster relief and from there, she founded Building Education in 2017 to help with relief efforts.
Prior to community service work, Wendy studied aviation, learned to fly single engine prop planes, and worked in the international aviation business as a jet engine specialist. After volunteering in October 2014 at a girl’s orphanage in India, she realized that her passion is making an impact in the world and the lives of others. Wendy quit her job in February 2015, sold all of her things, and left the country to travel the world all across Asia, Europe, and Africa for six years.
As a six-year retired or evolved world nomad, Wendy enjoys learning about cultures and religions. She spent one year in Thailand, teaching English in a rural village. She spent weeks in forest monasteries meditating with monks, in the midst of nature, while being attacked by mosquitos, and following the Five Buddhist Precepts - one of those being to not kill any living being. Wendy traveled all through India as a solo female traveler, mentoring young girls that have gone on to become nurses, government officials, and medical students. Her favorite experience in India was a visit to Vrindavan, where she went to volunteer at a widows' mission in Hindu temples, where currently over 6,000 widows of India reside. She also coincidentally met the Dalai Lama and made her way to Tanzania where she found herself worshipping with hundreds of children from a local hospital on Easter. Wendy has been blessed to have been kept safe and to have had the most amazing spiritual experiences as a solo traveler.
Around the time that the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, she was on a Himalayan mountain at Yala Peak base camp, stuck in a snowstorm, and unable to summit the mountain. Those horrendous hours in the tent, unable to summit, listening to thunder and lightning, hoping to stay safe, made her realize that she needed to move back to San Francisco (her hometown) to grow the organization and build more schools in Nepal.

When asked why she had joined our Club, Wendy told this story: When I lived in Thailand, a good friend told me to join a Rotary Club. When I lived in Spain, I attempted to join a Rotary Club, but the Lion’s Club got to me first!! So I ended up joining the Lion’s Club and supporting efforts to help domestic violence survivors. My heart and soul are in community service work. When I moved back to San Francisco, I was in search of a community with the same values. I believe I have found that here in the Rotary Club of San Francisco." Content to be back home, she adds, "I love the family that I have now and I am growing it."
One more interesting fact: Wendy is honored to be Global Citizen’s Miss Nepal. She is vying for the International Title, Global Citizen’s Miss, aligned and promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Editor's Note: In this column, we invite a new member in our Club to share with us. Please join me in welcoming this new member the next time you see her in person at any of our events.