Agape Latte:“Real Activism”

by August Kissel, Web Editor

On Wednesday Nov. 20, the second and Thanksgiving themed Agape Latte of the semester began with a guest pianist, Gavin Reidy, the younger brother to Conor Reidy, playing some soft music while students filed in to Jasper Lounge and enjoyed Lloyd’s Carrot Cake and pie.

Students waited for a talk by Carlos Pinto-Corredor titled “Real Activism.” This was Agape Latte’s first bi-lingual presentation, as Pinto-Corredor presented in both Spanish and English regarding his experiences growing up in Colombia and his life as he grew up and became a Lasallian Brother.

The presentation began with an introduction by president of Fuerza Latina, Anna Rosario. Rosario introduced Pinto-Corredor through his titles, as a Lasallian Brother, a leader in the Indivsa Manet movement, a teacher, an assistant principal, counselor, and campus ministry director in an elementary and secondary school. Pinto-Corredor is currently one of the mentors for the Lasallian Ambassadors program on campus, a community for those who have attended the IALU conferences, and is pursuing a degree in communication at Manhattan College.

Pinto-Corredor begins thanked Rosario, Reidy, the Agape Latte team and the audience for taking the time to define “real activism” and how to live with courage.

“I don’t know what to say after that long presentation. Because that is like titles and titles and actions and doing and going and going. But I’m here, and more interested in being. And that is why I’m sitting here to share with you a brief moment about life, but to share with you also part of my passions, part of my lifestyle, and also part of my convictions in life. I have never imagined being here after 10 months talking in English, because I had no idea in English when I arrived to Manhattan college, then 10 months ago in January. So this is incredible for me. And thank you for being here,” stated Pinto-Corredor.

Pinto-Corredor began his testimony by asking the audience what they knew about Colombia.

“Drugs,” Pinto-Corredor stated to the audience.

He then continued to list the artists that the audience would know from Colombia: J Balvin, Maluma, Shakira, and Gabrielle Garcia Marquez who all demonstrated that Colombia is a country of dreamers. That it is more than the stereotype of “coffee, cocaine and women.”

“Tonight I’m going to invite you to come create a bridge, in this world that is trying to build walls, I’m here to connect with you through my story and to create a bridge,” said Pinto-Corredor.

He then asked the audience to think about their cause in life, as this was a question that plagued him as a teenager. At this time he wanted to be an astronaut, a pilot in the Colombia Air Force like his father who was in the Colombian Army, and a professional basketball player.

He continued to say that these values growing up came from his family. “Those who see you can see your family. For me, that is a strong conviction. People who see me have to see the convictions, the values, the principles that I received in my family. The good and the bad, the good and the bad, because there is no perfect family, you know, but that is the human being, growing up, The second conviction I learned as a teenager is that life is not about position, but it is about conviction,” said Pinto-Corredor.

He continued to explain his struggles and desire to fight as a teenager, in an attempt to prove his strength. It was then he met a Lasallian Brother. This Brother brought Pinto-Corredor to a local community where he participated in service for the first time. Here he met a community just like himself, teenagers trying to find their way, and this service taught him to grow beyond just looking for convenience in life.

He continued, “How blind to reality, real activism, reality, how blind I was. That doesn’t mean that to open your eyes you need to see poor, now there are different ways, with your family, with your friends, and with illness. There are different ways, in different places and despite culture, our human condition always telling us what is right and what is wrong loving you despite of the country, you always know what something is not right. But sometimes that small line between being blind and life is too difficult for us to pass. So, that is the bridge, an invitation to create a bridge in that situation that I was that you are blind by convenience and open your eyes have to transform your decisions and convictions. That is when activism starts.”

To help himself cross this bridge, Pinto-Corredor shares his own team of people who have inspired him to keep crossing over the years. This team includes his father, Martin Luther, the Holy Trinity, the Colombian journalist Jaime Garzón, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, St. John Baptiste de la Salle, Barack Obama and Malala.

Each of these people taught Pinto-Corredor lessons as he grew from the teenager he was to the adult he is today. This team inspired him to become a teacher at the age of 17 for a preschool for six months. These six months lead to Pinto-Corredor’s transition of becoming a Lasallian Brother.

“After this decision of curiosity, six months became 13 years. I would have never imagined that at 16, I took a risk, it was not a sure decision, I think the risk was thatI wanted to know what the brothers knew, what is the cause of the brothers? Remember the first question? What is your cause? I connected with the cause of the Brothers and that cause become my cause. And now I belong to the cause. I know more.  I try to live the cause, to who I am,” added Pinto-Corredor.

He then continued to explain how joining the Lasallian Institution taught him empathy, courage and activism.

“Don’t be blind by convenience. Because sometimes for fear for differences, we don’t create bridges. We don’t take the initiative. And as a brother Finally, I understand, I developed the capability of empathy,” said Pinto-Corredor.

He then shared stories and photos about his experience as a brother, these stories included serving with his best friend, forming a leadership program at school, students he met who inspired him to continue teaching, and the size of international Lasallian Community.

“I started to see why I’m here at Manhattan college. Why I’m pursuing a communication major, and why I’m helping this Lasallians in leadership. This is because each profession has a political responsibility, each profession has an environmental responsibility, but above all, each profession has a human responsibility. In this final profession, I want to invite you to create a bridge with human beings you’re surrounded with. Not for accounts. Not for checks. Not for ATMs, you’re surrounded by human beings and despite of profession, you have to be always in the order,” said Pinto-Corredor.

He then closed off with a note to share with the audience, one of true activism and courage.

“You could have a cause in life and you can put all your effort into that. This (being Lasallian) is my cause. An activist is somebody who has a cause, it is not enough to go to a protest in the street. That is part of being supported, but being an activist is pulling all who you are into your professions, your passions, your friendships, your dreams, all for that cause. That is my humble idea. And that is what I wanted to share with you, thank you,” said Pinto-Corredor.