Story of my Resignation from Peace Corps Fiji – Wrongful Termination

Updated : Aug 30, 2019 in Articles

Story of my Resignation from Peace Corps Fiji – Wrongful Termination


What’s up everyone Ricky Kresslein here
as you can tell I’m no longer in Fiji this is the good old United States of
America South Dakota. The Badlands It’s pretty amazing. Fiji’s got some amazing
landscapes but this definitely puts it to the test the whole video right now
this whole video is basically the reason that I’m not in Fiji anymore
so I just want to give a little background before I get right into it
most of the video is from when I was still on Fiji so basically what happened
is I made some videos that you might have seen on my YouTube earlier you can
go look them up I’ll put them in the description below I made videos for
resorts and I just did two resorts and an Airbnb only two of those was kind of
commissioned by the person to do it but I had emailed them and I told them I
would do it completely free no money exchanged I just wanted to build a
little portfolio and I was thinking maybe when I got out of Peace Corps
later because I I knew already that the rule in Peace Corps states that you
can’t make any money while you’re a Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji basically
it states that you can’t have any financial gain especially based on using
your position as a Peace Corps volunteer to get that financial gain so I knew
that rule and I had decided already that I definitely welcome to make any money
from this so I just wanted to build a little portfolio and then maybe if I
wanted to do something with it after Fiji like when I travel maybe I could
use it to get free stays at hotels or you know get paid for it a little
bit but that wasn’t really my intention now I just wanted to get some experience
and keep it was something that I wanted to do so email these resorts and Airbnb
and I asked what they want to do it for want me to do a video for them for free
and two of them agreed and so I set up a little plan with them and they said you
know just come here and you can stay for a couple nights and get your video done
they didn’t provide anything I had to pay for all my transport there pay for
my bus fare and I spent a couple hundred bucks on each one paying for bus fare
and taxis and every food while I was doing it so they didn’t pay for my
things it wasn’t it was just completely free of some
I was doing for them that was really nice and they let me stay there because
because that’s kind of what you need to do to make a video and a couple months
later Peace Corps got wind of this I had kind of stopped doing it and peace corps
got when to this and they visited my website and then the country director
Fiji sent me a pretty intense email accusing me of a lot of things including
having some financial gain from this I sent him back an email and told him that
there was no money exchanged that I hadn’t geta profited financially or
anything I had just done these for free I gave him the numbers to the resorts
and I told him that he can call them if you’d like to verify I was very open
about it and essentially he sent me an email back after that and just started
saying things like this is super serious and I could be kicked out of Peace Corps
for it and all these things that I didn’t understand at all because I had
just told him that I didn’t profit so I immediately called him right when I got
the second email I called him and on the phone we discussed some things and he
said that a lot of it was about Peace Corps not liking the way it looks so
even though I might not have he said I you might not have primate profited
financially she said that he has no way of knowing that for sure but he would
take my word for it and I told him that he does have a way of knowing for sure
he could call the resorts and everything and he said he didn’t want to play
detective so at that point he started telling me that it wasn’t even a lot
about the money Peace Corps was really about the image of it they didn’t want
to tarnish their image of Peace Corps volunteer making resorts and making
videos for resorts in the country said it would look bad or whatever so after
that we sort of discussed a lot of things he discussed it with Peace Corps
headquarters and their lawyers and stuff and essentially it came down to he sent
me a document and I was supposed to sign it so what that document said was that I
had to email all the resorts and I had to tell them that they are not allowed
to use the video by you know Peace Corps didn’t want them to
use the video and they should take it down from their websites and also that I
should pay back any money that they would have charged me for the rooms so I
had to pay money that I didn’t actually ever earn and in Peace Corps we make 300
u.s. dollars per month actually a little bit less than that and so I just wasn’t
financially able to do that I mean that’s ridiculous to me you know I never
earned any money so I actually and did end up signing that first document
though it didn’t really accuse me of anything it just said that to stay in
Peace Corps you have to do this and I hadn’t read the rulebook yet so I wasn’t
sure you know what I thought if I was administrative separated or something I
would just have to leave Peace Corps I wouldn’t get any credit for what I had
already done I wouldn’t get any of my money that I was owed for readjustment
allowance which I ended up which would have been about $13,000 at the end of my
service so I was really worried about that so I actually ended up signing the
document and I emailed all the resorts and I I told them not to use the video
about two weeks about a week after that so I’ve got a week after that he emailed
me back and he said I’m sorry Ricky I wasn’t supposed to send you that
document yet I was supposed to have it gone over by the lawyers at Peace Corps
headquarters so at that point he had that he did that in a few days later I
got the new document well the new document accused me of a whole lot of
things like gaining financially and all these things like that that if I was
signing it I would essentially be signing away my guilt it made me write
an itemized list of everything I had to receive from the resorts that I would
have to donate to a charity would have totaled about $1,100 I found out just
the just the price of these resorts like letting me stay you know I had never
gained this $1,100 I didn’t have the $1,100 to donate it’s it’s just a
ridiculous thing so I obviously couldn’t do that and also it just didn’t make any
sense to me to sign a document saying I did something that I didn’t do I would
never write my name on a dotted line saying that
you know false information it’s signing a false statement and anybody will tell
you that you shouldn’t sign a false statement so I called him after that and
I told him that I couldn’t sign it because I didn’t agree with the
statement he asked me if there was anything he’d like me to change and I
essentially said that the entire document would just have to go away in
this whole ridiculous situation would have to go away to keep me in Peace
Corps now at that point I had read the rulebook so I actually ended up reading
the entire rulebook multiple times over a single day and I found that I still
get my money if you’re going to be administratively separated from the
Peace Corps then they have to give you the option to resign 24 hours beforehand
so I found out that if I resigned it still get all my money and I would
retain most of my benefits the only benefits I wouldn’t have was that I
couldn’t use a fellowship program at a college which I never planned on doing
anyway and I wouldn’t get non-competitive eligibility which I
never planned on getting a government job anyway so I really wasn’t missing
out on anything I realized so at that point I was ready to go home I wasn’t
going to sign my name on a document that I didn’t believe in and still receiving
all my benefits that made me decide that it’s just best to if they’re going to
make me go home then I’ll go home so I called him back and he essentially said
that if I wasn’t going to sign the document and if I didn’t believe that I
was guilty he said if you don’t believe you’re guilty still then you should
consider resigning so that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because I
wasn’t guilty and they just weren’t listening to my side of the story so to
tell me to go home if I don’t think I’m guilty is kind of crazy but I don’t
think I’m guilty and I know I’m not guilty so I I didn’t sign and I decided
the next day that I was going to resign so this video starts off with me
resigning and sending the email that I resign calling him and all that they’re
supposed to get you out as I say in this video 72 hours within 72 hours of you
resigning and that didn’t happen at all it took me a lot longer you’ll see in
this video how long it took for them to get me out but I’m happy now I’m back in
the United States of America it’s absolutely beautiful my brother
he’s over here he’s RVing and I just came out and I flew right out to
Minnesota to meet him and we went to Lake Superior we’ve been driving all
across the United States as I said we’re in South Dakota now or driving all the
way to Washington it’s I’m going to see my uncle in Montana it’s going to be
great so I’m actually so excited to be home it sucks the circumstances but you
know I like things happen in life things change I’m so proud of what I did in
Peace Corps Fiji I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything I still as I
consider I did my two years of Peace Corps and I extended an extra six months
that’s more than a lot of people do in Peace Corps and I got a project done I
know what I did with the people in my community and people all over Fiji and
I’m excited that I was able to have that opportunity and I’m even going back in a
couple months to visit to visit my village and do my going-away party since
I didn’t have any time to do that I only had a weekend to do that with them so
overall I’m glad to be back I’m glad to be out of Peace Corps at this point I
wouldn’t say that I recommend Peace Corps for anybody I think that there is
so many other great opportunities out there like Fulbright scholarships Disney
English jet program in Japan there’s so many great opportunities to travel while
not volunteering but having a good income and still doing great things for
the people of those countries you’re still you’re still just giving your time
and supporting these other developing countries and it’s just an excellent
thing so I would still recommend traveling and doing these things serve
people but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing with Peace Corps I think
that there’s a lot of other great opportunities out there so you should
just do some research and I’ll link to some in the bottom here if you want if
you’re curious and you want to look at some that I know of but that’s it so
from now on all my videos are going to be from America not from now on for the
next two months they’re all be from the United States and our road trip across
the US and then in a couple months and the end of July and beginning of August
probably the beginning of August I’ll pull one up of my trip to Tonga and I’m
going to be swimming with come back I’m so excited for that and that’s it
thank you for watching this video I know it’s quite long but if you’re if you
were interested in Peace Corps then I just take this into consideration thank
you alright guys so I have submitted my resignation saying that I could not sign
the document that would admit guilt the things that I never did so I said hello
first I want to say how grateful I am for all the opportunities Peace Corps
has provided me my time here will stand out above all others in my life with
that said I cannot sign the attached EAP document as I disagree with the
statements made within therefore I am result forced to resign because Peace
Corps service early thank you for everything or if you press on and I
spent this at 7-eleven today Saturday May 13 so they have 72 hours according
to this other provisions here that I’ll pull up unless it is not feasible or
volunteers departure date shall be no more than 72 hours after the season
makes a final decision – administrative leave separate the volunteer or the
volunteer resigns so I have 72 hours from 7:11 a.m. today Saturday May 13th
and we’ll see if they stick to that hey what’s up guys so it’s 10:30 on Saturday
now and I just got off the phone with the country director of Peace Corps Fiji
this is my second time trying to call him he finally picked up the last time
was about an hour ago at 9:30 so he said this time that he had not received my
email yet so I let him know I informed him that I was resigning he told me that
they would start processing the whole thing on Monday so I let him know that I
had read the Peace Corps policy book in Peace Corps policy states that
unless it is not feasible the time of departure of a volunteer may not be more
than 72 hours after the volunteer resigns when I told them that kind of
laughed at it and he told me that you think they have a lot of leeway there so
I’m not sure where you’re getting that because I read the rule multiple times
and I still don’t see any place where you could be getting some leeway and no
it’s feasible but that’s what it is right now so I guess I’m just going to
be waiting around the scene what happened so after our phone call our
country director said this hi Ricky I’m sorry to hear that but I support your
choice I’ve informed the admin team and they will be in touch with you regarding
travel arrangements for now please return to site and begin your packing so
he hasn’t given me any additional information and sent this at at 11:00
a.m. today Saturday May 13th so it’s been four hours now since I’ve resigned
and I’m just now getting this email from him
all right so now the DMO has emailed me and said hi Rick sorry I missed your call, yes I’m
okay with that, he’s talking about me taking a lorry back to site unless the
country director has objections please proceed and we’ll be in touch Monday
about the plan to get you to scuba and process out next week so he sent this at
12 38 today Saturday May 13 and he’s talking about processing out next week
which is well above the 72 hours that they have to get me out of here I am now
packing all of my things to go home I’m giving all of this away to the village
way more than I’m giving and then I’m keeping so I’m just here packing
everything up now I haven’t told anybody that I’m leaving yet
I’m going to tell tomorrow and present my offering of cava isn’t the offering
of cava that I will give to them a big one I wanted to buy a big one since
fifty dollars on the buy big one to say how appreciative I am of everything they’ve done for me. So I just found this in my things Fiji is home
I wrote that during the COS conference and we said what Fiji means to us
Fiji will always be my second home alright guys so it’s a 7 a.m. on Sunday
now so it’s been 24 hours since I submitted my resignation the last thing
I’ve heard from Peace Corps is that they’re going to contact me tomorrow
start talking about getting me down to suva the capital city so tomorrow it
will be 48 hours by the time they contact me and then they’re supposed to
get me out no more than 24 hours after that so I’m not sure what’s going to
happen they’re saying that they have a meeting to go to on Tuesday and
Wednesday and they won’t be in the office so I don’t know how long this is
going to get drawn out stick with me and we’ll see how it goes all right so I
just got finished going over to my Tatas house my village dad and also the Chiefs
house after I went so I went to my Tatas house and I presented it a table and I
asked him for forgiveness I told him what would happen what had happened he
told me that he couldn’t accept it because I didn’t do anything wrong and
then I kept myself from crying when I was doing it just barely and he took
them into the Chiefs house and presented the sales table as my father to the
chief and I talked to the chief about it and then I came back here and now have
been giving away all of my things and my path odds a good ton of stuff the Chiefs
going to come back over here later and take a bunch of stuff of course just
like I expected a lot of people they were both very concerned about the
project and what was going to happen to the project I told them to the best of
my knowledge I have no idea but I’m hoping that maybe another Peace Corps
volunteer will take it over from me and told them that no matter what I’m coming
back in three months I’ll be back here to see what’s going on and maybe guide
somebody through finishing the project I don’t know we’ll see but my thoughts I
just had to go to Limbaugh’s of town so I’m going to meet him there tomorrow
hopefully and say my final goodbyes to him before I come back in three months
the priest had time I’m actually really surprised at him cry when I was doing it
because that family has given so much to me my time here so this is now all
that’s left of that big pile people just came and raided this whole thing this
place has never looked like this before take down the clothes completely empty
really empty because there’s some stuff on the wall bags empty empty empty empty so so weird having all this stuff gone
and it’s being like it now feels like I’m actually leaving like just a couple
days ago really didn’t feel like I was leaving Fiji it’s been my life here for
two and a half years it’s a long time it’s been a while here and this has been
mine in my home you know when I went back to America to visit for a month I
when I came back to Fiji I felt like I was coming back home America I felt like
I was visiting so now that’s over just living living back in America now
so it is now 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning here so that means 48 hours actually 49
now happylab so I still haven’t heard anything it’s going to take like two
hours for a lorry to get to me a truck and then two hours for me to get to l’m
basa so the earliest flight I would be able to be on today is the last flight
which is 4:30 in the afternoon so I don’t know I would need to call that
truck immediately pretty much to be able to even make that flight so I’m just
waiting hopefully I hear something from him soon
so I can get there I just can’t be waiting around too long here so I just
went up to the school and I told them that I was leaving I told the teacher
how much I appreciated her for being able to go up there anytime I wanted and
she speaks such great English so they will just like speak to her as I would
any other American that was always like a nice little change so knowing that I’m
coming back has made this much easier than it would be if I was saying goodbye
forever so it’s been really nice to be able to say you know in just three
months I’ll be back again to you so that’s made everything a little bit
easier just a quick update it is now 10:15 and texts to the Peace Corps about
45 minutes ago asking if I should just call the truck so that it’s here in time
so I could possibly get to suva today and still haven’t heard anything so I’m
just waiting with no idea they’ve been at work now for two hours or 50 minutes
so I’m not really sure why I haven’t been contacted yet but I’m just sitting
here waiting around alright they finally called about 11:00 time is about 11:00
they called me the DMO called who’s a really awesome guy it is very nice to me
he expresses apologies that this was happening to me and really helped me out
with some information so I’m really thankful for that for him
basically what they’re telling me is that since the office will be closed on
Tuesday Wednesday which I knew that I’m not going to get out process until
Thursday but I will be able to leave the same day so I will leave on Thursday
night so that’s that’s good to me I was thinking that since they’re starting
that day I might have to wait around until Saturday or something but they’re
going to be able to get me out the same day so basically what’s going to happen
is I’m just going to go to Limbo so today as planned I already called the
truck they’re coming to get me in about two hours I want to drink grog with like
village for that two hours and then I’m going to go get on this truck ritalin
basa I’ll be in limbo so tomorrow I’ll probably close out my hands at bank
account so that I don’t have to do it in Suva and then I’ll have a ton of cash on
me which is unfortunate not done not even a little bit like a ton but a
little bit of cash on me and then I’ll go to Suva Wednesday morning
there’s a flight to there and then on Thursday morning I’ll go to the Peace
Corps office I’ll do all the paperwork that I need to do and I’ll head out
alright I’m here in Suva now at the Capricorn hotel and I am just going to
hang out until around lunchtime and then I’m going to go get some pizza and I’m
going to go close my bank account so until then I’m just going to chill here
do some work and hang out and enjoy the weather it’s beautiful today
this is out the window here you know bring you outside got a lock these things or else you get
locked out in here and somebody’s going to come let you in here we are cool great preview might actually clean
is chair sir alright so it’s uh
so three o’clock in LA now I’m in LAX and
basically what ended up happening was that I got out of Fiji at 9:30 p.m. on
Thursday so it’s about 134 hours from the time that I resigned until then so
they completely skipped out on the 72 hour thing and added an extra 60 two
hours on there so now I’m here in America. I’ve got to fly through Phoenix, I’ve got another
overnight tonight so it’ll be two nights on an Airplane and I’ll be back in America.

25 Comments

  • What's sad is that this situation was water under the bridge, and Peace Corps was more concerned about themselves than the amazing people in your village getting a completed project that would change their lives.

  • Dude, are you serious? you are essentially admitting that you benefitted from free stays at luxury resorts for doing promotional videos for them. How is that not personal gain? Can you really say that you were working for the benefit of people in Fiji? From this video, it sounds like you were just promoting your own aims. This sort of thing damages the credibility of all of us who have served as volunteers. You should really think about what you are posting, and how this reflects on you and other volunteers.

  • yo. I paused the video and the email he sent you was accurate. It does show you have an availability for work when you're in the peace corps.

    you stated "peace corps might not like the way it looks", but this is more accurate to say that peace corps understands how it looks and the repercussions to it's validity so as to keep both what peace corps is about, and keep people behind the cause that peace corps represents. This is ESPECIALLY important as peace corps just had a budget increase, and I for one would like to keep seeing this trend. Your small action has a big consequence.

    I don't doubt that you did a bunch of work with the people of Fiji by the way. Nothing against your character. this is just a response to highlight something that's going to reoccur. It's not the defending what you believe is right that's off in this video, but playing ignorant to the real issues your actions cause whether you see the repercussions or not. Then further claiming a lack of understanding as to why they did what they did.

  • Wow,your such a very nice person,a level headed guy too!I just came across your video and watch it,I know nothing about Peace Corps since am not an American but of course I've heard it.I didn't know it's all about volunteering which is always a good thing.I read all the comments here and of course there were few negative ones!And it's amazing how you replied to the negative comments!Your so polite,cool and level headed.You didn't even give them bad raps or hit them back with anger ,instead you answered them in a positive way! Pretty sure the people in Fiji knows what you've done for them and they wont forget you for that.Keep the positive outlook and good attitude.

  • Bula Rick! Fiji girl here from Suva, currently residing here in Seattle, love your videos about Fiji and the Bure, I've yet to check out your videos of Ruby Beach, Cape Flattery, Hoh Rainforest and Palouse Falls all in my backyard. Sorry to hear about your resignation from the Peace Corps Fiji, definitely a bad case of MISUNDERSTANDING.

  • Dennis explained it pretty much, you are portraying an image of making money for yourself or others and that violates Peace Corp agreement with the local Government (think volunteer visa versus work visa). ย I think you were just not aware of the free marketing you were doing for those other entities, innocently enough if you were not in collusion with them. ย Thanks for agreeing to go to Fiji though, hope you can find some place that will allow both volunteer work and your professional business.

  • I had a bad experience with Peace Corps Paraguay as well. Gave me a I.S. and sent me home for no real reason

  • while your actions could be considered profiting, I think a stern warning should have sufficed as punishment, but what was really annoying is them using the contract as a way to intimidate you yet when you tried to use it against them they just laughed.

  • Isn't that what the Peace Corps is suppose to do, to make people's life's better through projects, by making the local population working? I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines and Sierra Leone . Had to leave due to political incidents now retired out of the military. Granted your not suppose to profit by doing projects which a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers do it anyway. And you could proved proof to The Peace Corps of you not profiting? A remand at the most; should be it but I don't think you did anything wrong? SAD I wish you the best of luck you have a great attitude.

  • it's sad that you never finish what you wanted to do,but that is the journey of good and bad and the journey you took has bared some experiences and that's what matters.

  • Hey Ricky…I was a part of group FRE 4 from 2006-08. Knowing that Volunteers all have completely different experiences, I still look back fondly on my time in Fiji. I later took on PC Response assignments in West Africa, Eastern Europe & Southeast Asia which were all amazing affording me opportunities to see a huge chunk of the world. Sorry your experience ended on such a sour note, but sounds like you have made peace, no pun intended, with it…Moce mada

  • I was administratively separated (fired) from Peace Corps too for no reason at all. I stayed anyways. They couldn't force me to get on the plane. The Peace Corps cares more about their image than their volunteers. They even monitor your vlogs! They're a bad organization and I'm happy we both made the best of a bad thing. There are many other much better organizations than the heartless Peace Corps.

  • Wow! The narcissism and self-denial of it all. You are exactly why Peace Corps should not be about giving young, inexperienced, narcissistic people a platform and exposure to unsuspecting communities. Obviously, your PC experience was about you, not the community. How do you not understand that what you did was about your personal gain? If you thought what you did was OK you would have told the CD and other PCVs what you were up to. You did it on the down low because you knew it was shady and selfish AF. But the worst part of this video is how PETTY you are in counting down the hours to your termination. Hopefully, when you get older and wiser you will look at this video and get very embarrassed. You come off as a lying, self-centered, petty a-hole. Good luck to you and PLEASE stay away from any organizations focused on helping others until you help YOURSELF!

  • I think you're missing the point of Peace Corps dude. You're there to serve and nothing else. Take responsibility. You were there in a diplomatic fashion.

  • Thank you for making this video. I am looking into applying for peace corps right now, and this seems like something you did out of good faith to help out of the kindness of your heart. I see how it can be a very gray area here, and it really just seems like an unfortunate situation. This was very helpful because this sounds like something that I would probably do without thinking of the future repercussions like these.

  • As a RPCV, sounds like sour grapes to me. Why didnt you contact anyone at PC before you started doing the videos to see if you would be allowed to to this? Seems like an easy thing to do. I know I would have. The videos had nothing to do with your service/volunteer work in Fiji and you were profiting in some way by getting free stays etc.

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