Affirmations: Page Five of Five
“AHI’s Science and Government class … was intellectually stimulating and the AHI environment was a welcoming place to share an evening with others committed to expanding their body of knowledge. Class discussions were always interesting and thought provoking. Attendees at AHI represent a wide range of knowledge gained from extensive reading/studying/academia, occupation, and life experience. We enjoyed listening to all of it. … The information shared enhanced our understanding of larger issues outside the classroom.”
Trudy and Eric Kennedy, Utica, New York
“To the Alexander Hamilton Institute I owe a large debt of gratitude. In particular, Professors Paquette and Ambrose were a vital part of my undergraduate education, offering a much needed supplement to Hamilton. Their guidance and support shaped me into the scholar that I am today. Both are generous with their time and advice, demonstrating a commitment to students that very few professors of their caliber can match. I consider them both mentors and friends, and am incredibly proud of all that they have accomplished in founding and sustaining our Institute.”
Andrew Juchno, Hamilton College, Class of 2019
“Thank you so much for making it possible for me to come to the colloquium on Hamilton and Jefferson, and for letting me stay at the AHI. It was a wonderful, eye-opening weekend. I learned so much about the two that I never knew before, and it was good to hear so many different perspectives from such knowledgeable scholars. Monticello was absolutely beautiful, and we look forward to hearing what is next and experiencing your vision. And to Bob Paquette, thank you for allowing us to participate in
the food was spectacular, and I so enjoyed getting to know so many new people over the course of the trip! Thank you for such a great opportunity!”
Elizabeth Niebanck, SUNY-Oneonta, Class of 2021
“When the Alexander Hamilton Institute came to Clinton and took over the old restaurant on the green and I spoke to Jim Bradfield and Bob Paquette about the organization and its goals and objectives, I knew I had to get involved. As a founding member of the Conservative Party of New York State and at the time a Regional Vice Chairman for upstate New York, I understood the problem with many of the liberal arts colleges moving to the extreme liberal position on most current topics. Also the move to the ‘political correct nonsense’ that permeates many of the college administrations today.
My involvement with AHI has been an interesting and rewarding experience. As a retired teacher at a local college, I can appreciate the value of having an alternative program that provides the students with a conservative point of view on subjects in which they are involved in their studies. Also AHI returns to the philosophy of teaching students to think for themselves and do research to arrive at solutions to topics of interest. It is a great concern of mine that universities and colleges today are more concerned with forcing their students to fit ito the liberal mode of the university administration than fostering an environment that provides students with the ability to think and reason for themselves.”
Daniel Fitzgerald, Clinton, New York
“Dr. Pilon, Words cannot express how thankful I am for the experience I had these last two weeks. I feel so privileged that I not only got to know and learn from you, but also get to know and learn from my fellow participants. It is also true that some of the individuals we met, I may never have gotten the wonderful privilege to meet otherwise. I am so excited to reach out to some of those individuals and learn more about their work. This program made me realize the multitude of options available to me, and I cannot wait to pursue some of them. I meant it when I said you helped me realize that there could be more options out there than a professorship. While I still want to be a professor more than anything (I nearly gasped when our speaker at VOC said he left a tenured professorship), I realize that I can use a History degree in other ways. There are so many possibilities when it comes to using the foundation of history to try to better society. Thank you again for the tremendous amount of work you put into this. I hope to stay in touch and see you soon!”
A. P., Colgate University, Class of 2020
“I have attended the last four semesters of classes at AHI with Prof. David Frisk. These classes provide an opportunity to engage in in-depth study of a person or subject of historic or political interest. The suggested weekly readings, Prof. Frisk’s comments and the class discussions have been engaging and informative. Controversial issues have been presented in a fair and evenhanded manner. I have enjoyed this opportunity to keep learning.”
Harris Samuels, attorney, Saquoit, New York
“We have attended and immensely enjoyed four courses at the Alexander Hamilton Institute. Dr. Frisk provides a very stimulating lecture followed by a vigorous discussion. Class participation provides many different viewpoints from attendees coming from various professions and life experiences. Overall, these courses have provided a very positive experience for all attendees. We both are looking forward to Dr. Frisk’s upcoming course in September.”
Pat and Ben Trojnar, Whitesboro, New York
“Nothing is ever perfect. Cicero conveyed to us that the pursuit of knowledge and excellence should be made in “calm and tranquility.” I missed that lesson. These last four years I struggled with, and attempted to master and plumb: the tomes of the philosophers, renowned literary works, art historians’ critical essays, dramatists’ plays, artists’ paintings and sculptures, poets’ verse, historians’ panegyrics, and social thinkers’ admonitions – not in “calm and tranquility,” but at an often-frenetic pace. Of the ancient philosophers, the Italian Renaissance artists, the modernists, and a myriad of recommendable characters and thinkers, I fell asleep each night hearing other people’s voices, reading other people’s words, and considering other people’s images and ideas – learning all the while what it meant to think for myself. I found words for the sublime and the difficult. I tried to discover new words for the ordinary and the ineffable. Hamilton professors and Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) mentors taught me how to write more cogently and speak more persuasively.”
Claire Kitz, Editor of Enquiry, Hamilton College, Class of 2019
“[T]he [WAPONS] program was incredible. Thank you for all the work you put into making the program what it was.”
S. G. Hamilton College, Class of 2019
“I really learned a lot from this program [WAPONS], and I appreciate the time you spent putting it together and the time the speakers took out of their day to talk to us! It was a lot of fun.”
A. N., Texas Tech University
“When I reflect on my time spent in Washington DC with the Alexander Hamilton Institute’s Program on National Security I can only think about what a wonderful growing experience it was for me. During my time there I truly enjoyed hearing from many different experts about different aspects of our nation’s national security. I have several favorite moments from the program, one being visiting the Afghanistan Embassy and learning about the culture and history of the country. I also loved visiting the Holocaust museum and speaking with Anatol Steck.
“I came back to Georgia with a multitude of knowledge on subjects I hadn’t previously had the chance to study. I will always be grateful for the connections I made during my time and the many chances I had to spend with Miss Juliana Pilon and the many experts she brought together for us. I truly enjoyed every moment!”
Caitlan Coleman, East Georgia State University
“The [WAPONS] program was amazing in my opinion. You did such a wonderful job with planning and coordinating. We all were very privileged to meet the people that we did and hear their knowledge on a wide range of topics. I feel much more confident about my understanding of national security topics and the importance of national security in general, such as how it connects to so many relevant issues today. Thank you so much for helping the next generation to share in knowledge about our world and for letting us be your guinea pigs!”
I look forward to keeping in touch.”
K. L., Liberty University
“My time at D.C. and with the WAPONS Program was unforgettable. I really learned a lot about current pressing issues and about opportunities within my field of study! All the speakers and lectures were great, even though a few could have been more dynamic and engaging. You, as our mentor, were wonderful! I am really glad we got the chance to get to know both you and Roger [Pilon], and will always be grateful for everything you did and opening your home to us (also for the delicious meals we shared). As for improvements that could be done to the program, I would just say maybe have a more central location for future students to stay in. It would also have been nice to do some sightseeing as a group and maybe even tour some of the “three-lettered” agencies. I really can’t think of anything else that could be changed, as this program was really great.”
M. F., Mercyhurst University
“I had such a wonderful time with the WAPONS program and with you as our guide and leader. . . . The group couldn’t have gotten along better and our friendships are connections that will last a lifetime. I learned so much and I was inspired to look into many areas of national security that I never would have thought of otherwise. . . . I will be recommending the Alexander Hamilton Institute and the WAPONS program to my friends. You were such a great hostess and I will be keeping in touch with you Juliana. Thank you for this opportunity and for allowing me to see your home, a new city, and what my future in national security could look like. I was so blessed to have been part of AHI’s program and I think that I will forever look back on the experience fondly.”
J. C., Hamilton College, Class of 2018
“Thank you for everything! I really enjoyed the program and feel like I was able to learn some valuable lessons that will help me in the future. I really enjoyed the speakers and topics that focused on national security from a military or law enforcement perspective. Obviously, I am biased because it is the career field I want to go into, but I really feel that I got the most out of those conversations.”
Overall, I had a great experience and I am happy I got to be a part of WAPONS 2016!
J. T., Christopher Newport University
“First off, I just want to thank you for an amazing two weeks. It was an honor to be accepted into the program and to have the opportunity to engage in such an enriching experience. On a professional basis, I took some valuable lessons away from the program, but the two weeks also left a big impact on me on a personal basis. Experiencing DC for the first time and enjoying it with the 20 great students I had the pleasure of meeting is something I will never forget. . .. We certainly had great discussions with each other at the dorm, dinner, etc.”
Again, thank you so much for an awesome and unforgettable two weeks!”
K. M., Mercyhurst University
“I thought that WAPONS was a phenomenal experience. I was especially impressed by the quality of the speakers and the in-depth discussions we had with them. I also really enjoyed the company of all of the other participants. Their diverse backgrounds made for some really interesting and productive conversations. I will definitely recommend this program to other students at Mercyhurst.”
D. E., Mercyhurst University
“Celebrating the founding of our nation meant more to me this year than ever before after spending time in DC and meeting the men and women working so hard to keep us safe. This program has been very impactful, and I cannot thank you enough for the amazing experience. . . . I particularly enjoyed speaking with experts on conflict resolution, such as Eric Brown and Dr. Gregorian, because I often did not directly link conflict resolution and national security, and learned it is a field I am very interested in going into. Cols. Maxwell and Eastman and Dr. Berman were also very engaging experts because of their candor and conversational style.”
T. B., College of Charleston
“Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to engage with such great people and thought provoking ideas. I have gained some great friends and I am now more inspired to protect the classical liberal ideals we often take for granted here in the U.S. I enjoyed hearing from Dr. Spalding, Roger Pilon, Ilan Berman, Greg Scarlatoiu, Andrew Wilson, and of course, Hedieh Mirahmadi. Spalding’s erudition on the role of history and explanation of how, without hindsight, we cannot hope to learn from past error or properly analyze history was phenomenal. I appreciated his interpretation of “prudence” as it used by the Founders. It was great to be able to hear from someone like Dr. Roger Pilon, who is so well versed in Constitutional law and articulated its evolution so thoroughly. His talk of the bifurcation of rights into fundamental and non-fundamental was particularly interesting and still has me pondering over the notions. It helped me better understand the why lawmakers and judges have come to view the law in the way that they do. Berman impressed me thoroughly because he was able to explain the complexity of the Middle East in such precise terms, leaving little out. As someone who was not as well versed in the intricacy of the Middle East as some of the other students, this was very helpful. Our time with Greg Scarlatoiu was very informative. I learned so much about why North Korea acts in the ways it does. It dispelled some myths about North Korea, which was quite helpful. I previously viewed North Korea as a regime that ruled arbitrarily but now I understand that the government has clear goals for their country even if their methods are questionable. Even though it was the end of the day, Andrew Wilson, from CIPE, was very enjoyable. CIPE seems to do some great work to help private businesses tear down the chains established by the government.”
M. P., Christopher Newport University
“This experience was so eye-opening in that we absolutely need more individuals, especially in this generation and the generations to come, that are passionate about national security. The field is ever growing and the experts are contributing so much, however if we can get more people excited about national security and to realize the threats we have ongoing daily, America will be a safer place. I am hoping I can contribute to that one day! Thank you for attaching the pictures- I miss the program, D.C., the participants, and you of course and these pictures are a great way to reflect on my experience! I most enjoyed Mr. Dziak, Ms. Mirahmadi, Mr. Berman and Mr. Salman – while I enjoyed the other speakers, I felt that they were the most engaging and spoke about what I was most interested in. The discussion that we had with them were meaningful and I very much enjoyed them!”
H. C., Christopher Newport University
“I really enjoyed most all of the speakers. A couple that stuck out to me were Colonel Maxwell, particularly due to his connections with Georgetown University, and Omran Salman and Saghar Erica Kasraie’s due to their personal background. I particularly found Salman’s presentation to be very interesting and informative due to all his knowledge he had on Arab countries and their customs. I also loved our trip to Voice of America and that we got to walk around everywhere and see the studios. Finally, I thought Ilan Berman from the American Foreign Policy Council and Hedieh Mirahmadi were absolutely amazing speakers and incredibly knowledgeable. I enjoyed them so much due to their vast knowledge and the fact that they seemed so capable to answer the wide array of questions thrown at them with such precision. I think the program is brilliant the way it is. With such a variety of speakers, every student participating has the chance to really connect with someone who meets their interest. Some of the days were very long and tiring; however, that was something I knew would happen going into the program.”
I. L., Christopher Newport University
“I just wanted to reach out and personally thank you again for hosting the WaPoNS program this summer. It was truly a truly first-rate and outstanding program and it had a profound impact on me. Furthermore, the WAPONS program was vastly beneficial to complete prior to starting graduate school. I use the knowledge that I acquired during those weeks in DC (knowledge that I do believe would have taken years to gain otherwise) daily. By speaking with so many who have devoted their lives to the safety and security of our nation, I do feel as though I have the absolute closest thing possible to my own real life experience to be the root of my graduate study. In fact, I do believe my roommates are sick of hearing of my stories about the amazing people and things that I learned ‘during my program in DC this summer.’ Furthermore, while I have not yet written any papers I do hope to cite the materials that I was able to obtain this summer, especially The Art of Peace.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I know that you work very, very hard to make the program a reality and I want you to know what a profound impact that it had on me. I am blessed to have been able to attend the program and even mores to have had you as an instructor.
Nik S. Fisher, Master of International Affairs Candidate, The Bush School of Government and Public Service
“It would be very hard for me to pick a few favorites from the all the amazing speakers we had this week. They were all incredible and clearly were very passionate about the work that they are doing and have done in the past. I would say the speakers that I enjoyed listening to the most would be Dakota Wood, Col. Maxwell, and Ilan Berman. Dakota was great. He was able to answer such a wide range of questions and give us insight on so many different topics. He was also a very nice guy and had a good sense of humor which made the session not only informative, but also very fun. Col. Maxwell was also very fun to interact with. He was able to shed light on one of the most mysterious places in our world today, North Korea, while also making it fun and interactive. Similarly, Ilan was able to do the same with the greater middle east, mainly Iran. His ability to communicate his knowledge of the subject was very impressive. Although I probably could’ve described just about every speaker here in that manner, those three stood out to me and will surely be some of my most memorable experiences in the program.
A. P., Princeton University, 2018
“I must say I have learned and from every speaker we had and am very grateful to all that have taken the time to meet with us. I enjoyed listening to Dakota Wood because he was forthright, very knowledgeable (as everyone has been), and made complex concepts accessible. I also was grateful to have the opportunity to ask him about the situation in Afghanistan because it has been a small pet project of mine to follow developments there.
I enjoyed hearing from Eric Brown and Eric Hannis because they both were widely traveled and had a great breadth of experience to draw from as they answered questions. I am also interested, at a personal level, in Mr. Brown’s study into ideologies. Mr. Hannis’ insight into work on the Hill was excellent and very relevant for where I am now trying to go.
I think I speak for everyone when I say Jack Dziak’s stories were of great interest, at times amusing and at times sobering. Dr. R[oger]. Pilon and Dr. Spadling were wonderful as well.”
J. W., Villanova University
“I would like to just start off by stating how thankful I am to be a part of this program. . . .
One of the most compelling storytellers was Dr. Jack Dziak. He told some of the most fascinating stories about the KGB–even more impressive was the fact that many of them were personal experiences. Never before have I heard such an up-close and personal, first-hand account of the activities of the KGB. I especially enjoyed hearing the museum story; it is amusing how paradoxical the KGB–or Kremlin–can be. I found it interesting how intricately the Russians and former KGB agents integrated themselves into foreign societies. I wish I could take a glimpse of that magnificent library you praised so highly.
On one last note, I would like to mention how insightful not only the speakers are but also how insightful the other students here are. I have learned so much from them–events and names and places that I never even knew. For that alone, I am grateful to be a part of this program. It is not often that you find such studious people your own age who manage to push you to learn more and think harder. I have enjoyed getting to know them–and you, Dr. Pilon– throughout this program. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It truly means a lot to me for you to speak so openly about your experiences and to share family photos with us. I admire how brave and resilient your family was during such an uncertain time. I wish I could have met your parents; they sound wonderful.”
B. C., University of West Georgia
“My favorite has to be the lecture by Dr. Tom Merrill on Free Speech. This topic has been increasingly touchy recently but Dr. Merrill approached it with the intent to try to understand why it has become a difficult subject. His talk was organized into three main points, seeking to get a better handle of the subject. 1)The need to have a community standard in communication, 2) the Conservative responses to political correctness is often as corrupt and counter-productive as the political correctness, 3) if Free Speech isn’t the problem, what is? Through the first point Dr. Merrill emphasized the fact that there has been a deterioration in communication between peoples within the same country (let alone internationally) to the point that the United States has fallen back on political correctness as a sort of defense. Dr. Merrill pointed out that political correctness was not always either bad nor good, it is a tool that often gets corrupted and misused. His second point showed that neither the Right nor Left were free of blame in making Free Speech a controversial subject. Both sides overreact to each other and need to come to the realization that a rational conversation is the only way to reach a productive outcome. Finally Dr. Merrill’s third point is especially important because it brings to a head the other two points. It shows that there is some other, deeper problem in the United States, one that. He proposed a number of different possibilities: the fact that we think of Free Speech as a rights issue rather than an ethos issue, that we are culturally cowards, and that we define ourselves by those around us. He posed each of these as questions, but I think the important underlying theme is that Americans have departed from many of the Founding Principles. It seems that Dr. Merrill was hinting at a deterioration (or at least partial deterioration) of American culture that came with the departure from the American Founding Principles. This begs the question: how can the United States hope to maintain its National Security, and further its interests abroad, if it is unable to maintain its principles at home?”
D. W, Hillsdale College
“Thanks for all that you have done so far, this has truly been a great experience for me. I think that the first day was one of my favorites, particularly the sessions with Roger [Pilon] and Dr. Spalding. I have just recently gotten my feet wet in the world of political philosophy, and am seeing its importance more and more in how the foundations of thinking, and of our institutions, can help us to make prudent decisions. Perhaps blame for not fully understanding these key concepts rests fully with me, though I do wish my education incorporated more of a base for which to build on, as opposed to trying to drink from a firehose with no intellectual grounding. While I came to this conference looking for many answers, I ended the first week with even more questions than I started with. I do see the value in that because I, on one hand, now know of a lot of material that I wish to read up on. On the other hand, having unanswered questions is more comforting now that I’ve heard the experts say time and time again that they also do not know , which provides a weird feeling of both comfort and ambition.
Those are some of my general thoughts so far, but in terms of individual sessions, apart from the two mentioned above, I really enjoyed Jack Dziak for his insight into intelligence competition with the Soviet Union, and the still present Russian operations, which are not entirely dissimilar from the KGB’s. Another session that stuck with me is Ilan Berman. He came across as incredibly knowledgeable on not just on his issues, but also on issues around the world. The lesson that I learned from him is the difference that travel can make on one’s understanding of critical issues, which seems related to, as you discussed in your book, the human and cultural aspects of intelligence. I also greatly enjoyed listening to Eric Hannis, possibly because I have put a lot of thought into a with career in the Air Force as an officer as well as working on the hill, both of which he has done. The last session I would like to mention is Dorothy Taft’s. I think it was clear that she truly cares about the world and believes in what she is doing, which is very refreshing. Her approach to some of the world’s biggest issues was rational and results-driven, while still being deeply devoted to the cause. Her business is the first I have seen of that model, and from what I could tell, it is very effective and I wish there were more like it.”
K. N., American University
“I wanted to thank you again for allowing me to participate in the WAPONS program. I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by fellow students with the same interests and learning about national security issues from experts in the field. My peers and I had many lively discussions on the topics in the dorm in the evenings, which I really appreciated. I will confess: I did not realize how ignorant I was on some of the topics discussed, prior to enrolling in the program. There were many issues, such as cyber security and terrorist propaganda, which I only studied briefly in classes that I have taken. The opportunity which I was given, to have information presented in an unbiased, factual manner by experts, was incredibly enlightening. I wish you the best in finishing your next novel, and in all of your pursuits! Thank you so much again for this incredible experience. I am already missing our subway adventures!”
M. S., Colgate University
“I want to thank you again for a wonderful two weeks. I learned so much in such a short amount of time and the speakers have definitely helped to shape my plans for the future. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of such a wonderful [WAPONS] program.”
C. Z., Hamilton College, Class of 2019
“I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity of being selected for the Alexander Hamilton Institute National Security Program. Not only was it insightful but it offered me the opportunity to obtain a greater understanding of the issues, policies, and inner workings of national security. I thank you for the time and effort you have put into this program. I also enjoyed working and exchanging ideas with the diverse students that attended the program as it allowed me to widen my views on policy issues. If there are any similar summer programs you come across, I would be interested in being a part of it as it would give me a better insight and perspective on a possible diplomatic career.”
J. B., The State University of New York at Stony Brook
“I just wanted to send you an email saying that I really enjoyed the last two weeks and appreciate all of the efforts you put into the program and getting to know each of us. The amount of knowledge and inspiration I gained from this program was truly remarkable. I can’t even properly describe how amazing it was to be part of it and become friends with such fantastic people. You really made the whole program a wonderful experience and brought us all together, so I wanted to thank you. Hopefully, you have a wonderful rest of the summer!”
D. D., University of North Texas
“Dr. Pilon, Thank you for all the work that you did to make the WAPONS program a rewarding summer class. Your knowledge and experience are breathtaking. Your personal contacts you shared with us were fantastic connections that I don’t think we could have formed any other way. I enjoyed especially the foreign service discussions that this program opened up for me. Thank you for feeding and housing us and thank you for the metro rides. Thank you for all the classes and for organizing this program for us students. . . . I was floored by the knowledge base that we encountered over our time in DC. It was overwhelming, but in a very good way. I especially enjoyed the public diplomacy discussions with both diplomats and VOA operators and think tank specialists. It was well worth the trip. The discussions in the metro with you and other students were very rewarding also. Thank you so much again for all the work you put into the program! “
S. W., Oklahoma Wesleyan University
“You [Juliana Pilon] are the mastermind and the motor of a wonderful experience you voluntarily give to others. My time here [at WAPONS] could not have been as enjoyable if anyone else was in your position. You have done great things to get to where you are, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know you. I’m looking forward to our reunion!”
S. S., East Georgia State College
“Thank you so much for the amazing dialogue this past weekend. . .. I very much hope I have the ability to work with you again in the future!!”
T. D., Florida, November 2019
“It was a pleasure to listen to the dialogue between the panelist and the participants. Teachers truly do appreciate the opportunity to feed our own love of learning. Thank you for giving your time up over the weekend to spend it with us. I look forward to next year.”
K. P., M. Ed., Anthern, Arizona, November 2019