During my time in high school, I grew very fascinated with my class, Journalism. My teacher, Mr. Case, allows me to explore and do film projects that I find interesting.

I’ve had a lot of success by making documentaries and filming social experiments and putting them on our show, “What’s Up,” which is a show that talks about what’s going on in our school and in our community.

I decided to enter a national film documentary contest, which basically asks students to create a video talking about “What does it mean to be an American?”

This film documentary that I’m making is especially important and personal to me. I decided to talk about my activism and my fight against policies and laws that I disagree with in the United States. My first amendment rights are what protect me from any prosecution while I am speaking out.

Then there was my grandfather, Vicente Armando Garrido, whom I didn’t have the pleasure to meet. He was unfortunately persecuted for being a “leftist” and tortured in jail for speaking out and against the brutal Pinochet dictatorship of 1973 in Chile.

He and my uncle, Gabriel Garrido, who was also persecuted and tortured in jail, spoke out against the coup where they were taken and faced torturous rituals that are incredibly inhumane.

My grandfather was an activist, but when he was fighting for what he believed in, he was thrown in jail, tortured, isolated from friends and family, lost his job, and was forced to live with the traumatic experience for the rest of his life. All because he spoke out and fought for what he thought was right, just like I do now in the United States.

I would like to win this competition, but my documentary will be dedicated to him and to my family because I think it’s important that I share his story.

I think my documentary is the epitome of what it means to be American.

I mean, what’s more American then freedom of speech? That’s the foundation of our nation’s history.

We live in an incredibly lucky place, and I’m incredibly grateful I have the right and the support to speak out and become an activist. It’s in my family blood after all.

You can view my other videos on hrvtalon.com and I will post my documentary on there as well very soon.

Montserrat Garrido is a senior at Hood River Valley High School and News intern.

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