The Bucks County Organization for Intercultural Advancement

The Bucks County Organization for Intercultural Advancement


History of BCOIA

In May 1982, the Guatemalan government first extended formal recognition of the BCOIA as an educational entity and in October 1984 it authorized the Organization to establish a local office in Guatemala and function as an international mission. Dr. Robert MacVean was appointed by the BCOIA Board as its local representative for the mission.

In 1985, the formal decree (Acuerdo Gubernativo #1298-85 and Decreto Ley #136-85) recognizing BCOIA was published in the Diario Centro America, the official gazette of the Government. From 1984 until 2002, the BCOIA, working with International School Services, limited its activities to the appointment of Bucks County Fellows to teach or engage in research at the Universidad del Valle (UVG) and the Universidad de San Carlos. 

By the beginning of 2002 BCOIA began to expand its activities in Guatemala. It extended its relationship with UVG by integrating educators from the United States and other foreign countries into the American School of Guatemala. In 2004, BCOIA also began providing the same services to the Fundacion Educativa Guatemala and its educational institution, the Colegio Interamericano, which has a substantial staff of foreign teachers. Soon afterward, the Universidad del Valle began requesting teaching staff for its satellite schools in the highlands (UVG-Altiplano) and the south coast (Colegio Americano del Sur) as well as scientists and researchers for special programs in the area of health carried out by Centro de Estudios en Salud (health research center).

From a small beginning of ten Bucks fellows, the BCOIA professional staff in Guatemala now includes teaching fellows, elementary and high school teachers, school administrators, school librarians, directors of development and public relations, physicians, health educators and scientists. Since the American School of Guatemala, the Colegio Interamericano, and the Colegio Americano del Sur are accredited by United States agencies, the relationship with BCOIA has benefited the schools by helping them meet accreditation standards.

In 2003, Dr. MacVean retired and was replaced as local representative by Barbara Barillas, who was Director of the American School for many years. Upon retirement in 2012, she was replaced by Margarita Suhr.

Annual Board Member Visits

Once a year the Board travels to Guatemala to provide professional workshops and distribution of books and supplies to the children.

Since 2005 the Board expanded the Literacy Program by providing books and supplies to the children. This program continues today.

From a global focus in the 1970's to a concentration in Guatemala,  BCOIA has evolved and changed, but it has remained true to the goals established by the founders of the organization.

How can I get involved?

Professional Development Workshops in Guatemala