This piece placed second for middle school submissions in the Ánimo Voices Competition, which invited students to write about innovators, upstanders, visionaries, or rebels that have made a difference in their local or broader communities. The competition was an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing and art.
The Man Who Dreams Big
Cracks and yawns were the sound that 50-year old Ruben Argueta made as he stretched in bed. “Another day of life, another day of hard work.” Ruben says this motto helps Argueta get through the challenges in life.
Ruben is a Central-American in the U.S.A who is defying all stereotypes. He has two children, a caring wife, and a heart filled with a fighting spirit. He works hard everyday trying to support his family to, give them opportunities he never had. Michelle Argueta, Ruben’s daughter, says,“We have the chance to have an education and have enough money to eat everyday, but my father didn’t have this when he was fourteen.”
“My life has been harder and a lot different than many others, but I’m still here,” Ruben said, “If I didn’t give up then, then why should anyone give up now?” Argueta was born in a small, impoverished town named Aldea Xaya in Guatemala where life was very challenging. He had always dreamed of becoming a auto mechanic. Going to school only up to the sixth grade and working with his grandfather as a cattle herder, also known as a “chalan,” at the early age of twelve really impacted Ruben’s life, bringing many struggles. As a young teen Ruben thought of life as a simple game, that it would be easy and that he’d work as a cattle herder for the rest of his life. As he grew older he realized that his future in Guatemala would diverge him from the future he imagined. His surroundings in Guatemala were full of poverty, society lacked work and worst of all they would lead him to having a tedious, unsuccessful life.
Moving from Guatemala to the U.S.A wasn’t an easy task, but the hope of a better life was the only thing Ruben needed to continue. Argueta crossed the border illegally, following a long, hard journey with coyotes and challenging situations. Hardships included traveling thousands of kilometers under torturous heat waves, giving up money so that Mexican police wouldn’t send him back to Guatemala, and running to evade the border patrol. When Ruben first arrived to the states, the problems he faced were harder than anything he had ever overcome. Life challenged him for many reasons: not being able to speak English limited his communication, the lack of money troubled him, and racism made him feel insecure.
After working three jobs a day for ten years, pushing through obstacles, Ruben Argueta found himself in a happy and productive life. He has now been working with Cox Petroleum Transport for nine years and has been a U.S. Citizen for 17 years, which has been many of Ruben’s blessings in life: this has been the solution to most of the challenges that he faced at first. He is now financially stable, which allows him to spend more time with his family, travel around the globe, and provides a sense of security and safety in this country. Argueta is admired and respected at work for his great dedication, hard work, but most importantly for challenging negative stereotypes of Latinos.
“They all think that we are lazy and disrespectful people, but I’m living proof that Latinos are not,” Ruben Argueta said.
We can learn a lot from Ruben. Sometimes we think that our lives are so hard we should give up on them, but others have fought even harder to obtain the same life and opportunities as you.