Jason Wolfe '99: Our Man in Afghanistan ...
and Pakistan, Ecuador, Moldova, the Philippines, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia ...
It’s hard to imagine a more insular upbringing than Jason Wolfe’s. Raised by a single mother in the small town of Fredericksburg, Pa., the 1999 graduate grew up surrounded by his Pennsylvania Dutch relatives, all of whom resided within the same 10-square-mile area that they and their ancestors have inhabited for hundreds of years. Pittsburgh was the farthest he traveled away from home until his junior year of high school. That year, when his Northern Lebanon High School band marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin, Ireland, marked the first time he’d flown in an airplane. But it wouldn’t be the last time.
As an enterprise development adviser with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), he has traveled to 22 different countries on four continents in the last four years. At this point, he has visited more countries than U.S. states. He spent half his time abroad last year alone.
Raised on scrapple with maple syrup, pig stomach and chicken pot pie, the now-vegetarian Wolfe hankers most for chipsi maayai, Tanzanian street food that is essentially a French-fried omelet. He also covets tiga dégué, a rice/peanut sauce dish found in Mali. Sandwiched between the Sahara and the tropics, Mali is one of the countries in the Sahel region of western Africa, a crossroads of culture, language and music that Wolfe finds infinitely fascinating.
He holds the same opinion of Afghanistan, perched along the ancient Silk Road. In March 2009, Wolfe donned a flak jacket to tour Kabul and two other cities. He was there to check on programs designed to jumpstart a lawful economy with apparel, textiles—particularly carpets—marble and granite.