Letters: Peace Corps, JetBlue Passenger

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Listeners comment on last week's stories, including an interview with Robert Strauss, a former country director for the Peace Corps who has been critical of the organization's recruiting and administration.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Time now for your letters. Our interview last week with Robert Strauss, a former country director for the Peace Corps who has been critical of the organization's recruiting and administration drew a number of responses. Carl Hammerdorfer, Fort Collins, Colorado who was the Peace Corps Bulgaria director from 2002 to 2007 called his own experience extremely positive. He writes, the over 500 volunteers who serve their countries, the United States, and Bulgaria while I was director had that same idealism and desire to make a difference in the world that Peace Corps volunteers have always had.

As for their skills, the volunteers who served under me were teachers, public servants, business people, retired executives, and yes, many recent college graduates. The vast majority of them worked hard for their two plus years of service and were valued by the communities that they served. Lieko Earl (ph) of Boulder, Colorado wrote, I joined the Peace Corps in 1997 immediately after college and poured my heart and soul into the Tanzanian school community to which I was assigned.

A vast majority of the 43 other volunteers who started in Tanzania with me were also right out of college and they remain to this day some of the most dedicated and creative people I have met in my life. Mr. Strauss does the Peace Corps community disservice by failing to recognize the level of commitment and leap of faith necessary for a person young or old to agree to spend two years in an impoverished nation far from home to help people he or she has never met.

Mike Quinn (ph) of Cleveland sent us a thought about a brief item last week on the JetBlue passenger who is suing the airline after being forced to spend part of a flight in the airline's lavatory. What's he complaining about, Mr. Quinn asked, compared to the middle seat in between two oversized passengers, I'd say he had first class accommodations. Plus he could drink all the free sodas he wanted.

In her interview last week with singer-songwriter Lorraine Feather, NPR's Susan Stamberg remarked, I'm willing to bet nobody's ever written a song about waiting on tables. A few listeners took her up on that bet. Two other wonderful songs come to mind, writes Paula Kirsch (ph) of Sebastopol, California, "Ooh, My Feet!" by Frank Loesser in "Most Happy Fella" and the wonderful "Mr. Sellack" by the Roches on their CD, "The Roches." Check them both out.

(Soundbite of "Mr. Sellack")

Ms. Terre Roche: Now the only thing I want is to have my old job back again. I'll clean the tables, I'll do the cream, I'll get down on my knees and scrub behind the steam table. Oh, Mr. Sellack...

SIMON: We welcome your thoughts, your criticisms, your musical recommendations. Visit our website at NPR.org, click on "contact us," and please tell us where you live because we might want to visit sometime, and how to pronounce your name.

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