CHARLESTOWN, Nevis -- An 11-year-old schoolgirl with a strong sense of history and heritage won an essay contest and a scholarship for effectively communicating her love of country.

Mickia Mills of the Combermere Primary School in St. James' Parish, Nevis, was the winner of the 9th annual Conde Nast Traveler "My Caribbean" essay contest.

Mills' entry was selected from more than 1,000 essays submitted by schoolchildren from 27 Caribbean countries.

Mills and the other finalists were introduced at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual conference in Barbados in October.

Essay topics in the past have dealt with issues such as sustainable tourism; the impact of tourism on Caribbean countries, and crime and safety.

Participants this year were told to select three items from their island to place in a time capsule to be opened in 3000.

The items would help explain their country to future generations.

Items named in many of the essays included CDs, bottles of sand, native plants, flags, local foods, birds, Carnival costumes and artifacts.

Mills' winning entry contained some of these items, as well.

As first-prize winner, she was flown to World Travel Market in London in November, had her essay published in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler, was awarded a $2,000 scholarship and received an IBM computer.

The two runners-up were from Belize and the twin-nation destination of Trinidad and Tobago.

Each of the 27 finalists received two roundtrip tickets on American for flights within the Caribbean.

Here is Mills' essay:

The 36-square-mile Caribbean gem called Nevis is rich in culture and history, and my island's heritage will enrich the curious minds of visitors -- even in the year 3000.

In my time capsule, I would include our pottery, pictures, notes and maps of our historical sites; and compact discs and videos of our music.

Pottery-making began when the Arawaks and Caribs inhabited our island.

Over the years, our people have worked hard to perfect the art, and today Nevis produces the best pottery in the Caribbean.

Not all tourists visit us for sun, sand and sea.

Many are interested in our past. How could we forget Bath Hotel, built in 1778, which lured the rich and famous to our shores, or Castle Church, the first church built for slaves?

Our African ancestors brought with them a love for music, and throughout our history, Nevisians have expressed themselves through music and song.

Nevisians are proud of their traditional string band, big drum, steel band and calypso music.

The big drum reminds us of the struggle of our forefathers from slavery to emancipation. It is impossible to hear our string band music without shaking a leg.

Nevis is developing rapidly, but I hope that our people will remain humble and friendly.

However, my greatest hope is for all children to be able to walk the streets without fear of crime or violence and to grow up in a drug-free, clean and healthy environment.

By the year 3000, I hope that more people will become computer literate.

It will be very difficult to survive without these skills, and we must prepare ourselves now.

Nevis, O land of beauty, I love you. May you continue to offer peace and tranquility to those who visit your shores.

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