Interview with Claire Hellstern Part I (Race Recordings)


Terkel, Studs




Studs Terkel is a radio broadcast personality and author who hosted the award-winning radio program, "The Studs Terkel Program" every weekday from 1952 to 1997. In this interview, Terkel talks with Claire Hellstern, a nurse who ran a health clinic near Chicago's inner-city public housing projects. Hellstern discusses her experience as a white nurse in a non-white neighborhood and the ways she negotiated her identity both at work and in the community. Terkel's interview with Claire Hellstern offers an opportunity to discuss how to handle "tough people" in our workplaces and communities and how to connect with people across difference.

Full Text*

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Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceHealth and HealingOrganizing and ActivismPoverty and NeedPower and PrivilegeRace, Ethnicity and CultureSpeech and ExpressionWork and Vocation

Big Questions

How do we connect with those who are different from us?How should we respond to people and communities in need?How does race affect our relations to others?What is the value of work for me? For my community?


Listen from 1:37-8:32 only

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do we know about Claire Hellstern?
  2. What kind of community does Claire work in?
  3. What problem arises at the clinic where Claire works? How does she handle it?
  4. Do you agree that the best way to handle a “tough person” is to use humor and be polite? Why or why not?
  5. Have humor and politeness worked in your own experience? If so, in what cases? If not, what has?
  6. Who are the “tough people” you face in your day-to-day work or service? What challenges do you face with them? How do you handle these challenges?
  7. Does anything about the interview with Claire trouble or concern you? If so, what?
  8. Where, if at all, do you see yourself in this interview?
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