NEW YORK (AP) _ Following is the text of the essay titled ''Our Statue: Teacher of Liberty'' written by 11-year-old Hue Cao of Hawaii for the Christa McAuliffe Liberty Essay Contest:

''I think the Statue of Liberty is the greatest symbol of freedom in the world.

''My family and I are from Vietnam. After the war ended, the Communists took over and they were very cruel, stern and ill-tempered. They took away our freedom, and worst of all, they could kill anyone. We had a very hard life under them.

''We wanted to live in America, a land where there is liberty and justice. Everytime we saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, my mother would tell us that SHE is America. America is a place that lends a hand to those in need. The Americans care for all people, from hopeless to homeless people. After we arrived in America, we promised our mother to love, care and protect the Statue of Liberty.

''In conclusion, I would like to say that America is truly my home. I shall live in this country forever, because this nation has given my family a brand new life.''