HH Honors Seattle’s Wendy Wong as ‘Unsung Hero of Compassion’

Founder of Education at Elevation receives historic acknowledgment from His Holiness at ‘Unsung Heroes of Compassion’ event

Author by Michele Thomson. March 2014

SEATTLE, WASH. His Holiness was an honored guest at a luncheon event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California, on Sunday, February 23, 2014, where he acknowledged and thanked 51 highly compassionate individuals who are the honorees of “Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2014.” Among the honorees was Wendy Wong, founder of Education at Elevation (E@E), a nonprofit located in Seattle, Washington.

PHOTO: Wendy Wong (right), founder of Education at Elevation (E@E) is acknowledged by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama (left), at the recent “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” event. PHOTO CREDIT:BRIANA FORGIE.

PHOTO: Wendy Wong (right), founder of Education at Elevation (E@E) is acknowledged by His Holiness (left), at the recent “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” event. PHOTO CREDIT:BRIANA FORGIE.

Hosted by Wisdom in Action (WIA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of compassion in action, “Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2014” is the fourth event of its kind since 2001. Wendy Wong was honored alongside 51 men and women from 18 countries whose ages range from 16 to 85, and who represent many ethnicities, cultures, faiths, and backgrounds. Each honoree was chosen as demonstrating the timeless and universal human goodness celebrated by every wise culture. As one of the honorees, Wong is the founder of Education at Elevation (E@E), a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that raises funds for a small school in a remote Tibetan village in western Sichuan, China (formerly Kham, Tibet).

“These individuals have been selected as representatives of the tens of thousands of people worldwide who quietly serve the disenfranchised and work to improve our communities through their personal efforts,” comments Dick Grace, founder of Grace Family Vineyards and board chair of Wisdom in Action, the organization hosting the unique celebration. “We don’t see them or hear about them in the daily news, but they exemplify a humanism and heroism to which we must each aspire.”

Founded by Wong in 2007 as the Vajrayana Dharma Foundation, Education at Elevation (E@E) was created to support orphans and poor children at Rinpoche’s Nga Gyur Shed Dup Cho Ling school (loosely translated to “The Early Translated Dharma Teaching and Study Center”) by providing education, housing, food, clothing, and other basic necessities.

“I felt my own two children were so lucky to be born in the United States with plenty of resources and opportunities,” comments Wendy Wong of Education at Elevation, “and I wanted to give the same chance to other kids in another part of the world.”


Encouraging Education at 14,000 Feet

The Rinpoche Nga Gyur Shed Dup Cho Ling school is located at an elevation of 14,000 ft. Like generations before them, the nomads of the surrounding high alpine communities survive by living off the land, herding yak, which provides sustenance such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. The nomads live in tiny transportable tents of only about 200 square feet, and made of coarse yak hair woven together. Despite their small size, each tent is shared by many family members.  It’s a hard life — the nomads own few possessions and work from sunup to sundown with their children right beside them, but many families value education and encourage children to go to school when possible.

Luckily, education became a reality for the children living in the Anzi village where Rinpoche’s school is located thanks to Education at Elevation. E@E hopes to encourage more children to go to school and plans on expanding the curriculum to include sewing lessons to attract more girls, as female enrollment to the school has been a challenge (the nomadic community and families do not encourage education for girls). Wong is hopeful for the boys and girls of the region: “I believe that compassion starts at home, then community, then country, and the world. Peace will follow automatically once everyone understands that though we are different, we all just want happiness.”

About Wendy Wong

Born in Malaysia in 1970, Wendy Wong grew up in Kuala Lumpur, and attended college in the U.S. In 2007, her mother sponsored Sonam Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, to come to the U.S. to study English. Through many conversations with Rinpoche, Wong learned about the poverty, harsh conditions of the region, and challenges faced by many Tibetan children in the remote areas in China.

While Wong had no direct ties with Tibet, she felt compelled to help Rinpoche with his project to build a school to educate impoverished nomadic children. More than half of the children are orphans, have only one surviving parent, or have been abandoned. So, in late 2007, Wong gathered a group of friends and founded the Vajrayana Dharma Foundation, now called Education at Elevation.

For more information on Education at Elevation, please visit www.EducationatElevation.org. To learn more about Wendy Wong’s recent honor from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, please contact Michele Thomson at mthomson@educationatelevation.org.