Oscar Argueta has many titles: a poet, a businessman and a father, but he is most known for a humanitarian.
Argueta, a sophomore majoring in university studies, grew up in Guatemala. He said no one in his family knows how to write or read, except him.
Argueta said while he was growing up, although his family constantly needed him to work for money, he managed to finish his secondary education. With no money left behind, Argueta came to the United States and settled in Iowa with his wife, Arlita Argueta.
In Iowa, Argueta said he and his wife founded the newspaper El Heraldo, a literature newspaper for Hispanic immigrants. They later sold the newspaper and moved to Saint Anthony, Idaho.
Argueta said he moved to Idaho to be closer to his nine kids living in Rexburg going to BYU-I and continue his education. In January, he will take volunteers and school materials back to San Luis, Guatemala to start a school to teach English to locals.
Argueta said this idea first came to him in September when six young adults came to his house in Guatemala and asked if Argueta would teach them English.
“I had this mother come to me and ask if I can help her child,” Argueta said. “In Guatemala, they don’t have much chance to receive an education.”
Argueta said if people know how to speak English in Guatemala, they can apply for better jobs. Many young adults in his hometown travel to another city to learn English. Hopefully, by providing English education, these young adults can stay in their local town.
Argueta said the only English teacher over there teaches seven classes a day and earns $100 per month. Right now, Argueta is turning the house in Guatemala into a school and he said he wants to train the locals who know how to speak English, to have them teach the students.
Melodee Mueller, a faculty member in the Languages and International Studies Department, said she will be traveling down to Guatemala with Argueta and his wife for a few weeks training locals to teach English in January.
Mueller said she first met Argueta in the Saint Anthony Spanish branch where she talked to the Sunday School president to try to promote the adult English class she teaches.
“The more I get to know this couple, the more I realize their goodness and sincerity of helping others,” Mueller said.
Mueller said it is a win-win situation to train the local people to teach English to provide job opportunities to the town.
Mueller said she started a fundraiser online to try and earn money for school supplies. The idea is to have 100 people donate $5 each to raise $500 for books and materials.
Argueta said now they have an idea to have BYU-I students to tutor English and Skype students in Guatemala to speak English with them every day. But they would need volunteers throughout the year help teach the locals English.
“My mind is constantly working,” Argueta said. “There are lots of ideas we are going to develop.”
Argueta said in the eight years of doing humanitarian work, he has helped repair roofs and floors and organize a workshop to encourage small businesses. He said he has no money to do all of this, but with the help of the Lord and people along the way, they have accomplished many projects in Guatemala.
“I’m a brother of love for another soul,” Argueta said. “When you receive, you’ll have the desire to give. It’s natural.”
Argueta said he will go to Guatemala with his wife, Mueller and six other volunteers in January. Mueller said she hopes she can raise $500 before January.