What is early termination from Peace Corps like?

The words every Peace Corps Volunteer fears–early termination. It can feel like a taboo topic in Peace Corps circles, but in fact it happens to more than 1 in 10 volunteers, and it’s usually not because of anything the Volunteer has done. 

There’s four big categories of early terminations. They can all happen any time between when you start training and your official end of service, also called Close of Service. They’re summarized below, and you can sift through the official details here

 

Resignation

You voluntarily leave Peace Corps. 

  • Similar to quitting a job.
  • Tough because it’s an incredibly person decision and you’ve already invested a lot.
  • Easy because it’s completely up to you.

Interrupted Service

The Country Director decides you are unable to continue your particular assignment, but you are eligible to continue as a Volunteer and get a new assignment. This encompasses myriad circumstances, but most often takes the form of instability in country that makes it unsafe for Volunteers. This happens more often than you might expect. Typically each volunteer has the option to continue their service in another country or officially close their service, depending on how long they’ve been serving.

  • Similar to getting reassigned.
  • Tough because it can unexpectedly rip you away from your loved ones and belongings in country.
  • Easy because you’ll very likely have other volunteers to process the experience with. 

Medical Separation

Peace Corps determines it is unable to accommodate or resolve your medical condition.

  • Similar to getting laid off.
  • Tough because it’s not under your control, and you’re generally going it alone.
  • Easy because you don’t have to make the decision, and it’s often a relatively straightforward explanation for loved ones to understand.

Administrative Separation

This is arguably the messiest ET. The Country Director decides to end your service because of poor conduct or violation of Peace Corps policy. Drug use, breaking local law, and riding motorbikes or motorcycles are common reasons. You’ll have the option to resign before administrative separation.

  • Similar to getting fired.
  • Tough because it’s mostly up to your Country Director and you’ll probably go through it alone.
  • Easy because there are very clear ways to avoid it. 

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