University Prep Academy student Ahja Brooks has a memorable answer to the question "What did you do this summer?"

The 17-year-old helped build a school in a village in Haiti as part of a service project through BuildOn, a group dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty worldwide. 

"We went to Haiti for two weeks between August 8 through August 19,” Brooks said. She and other BuildOn participants spent the two weeks in LeStage, Haiti. While there they were able to milk a cow, meet a midwife, meet a voodoo priest and visit two beaches.

As part of the trip, participants had to pledge to emerge themselves in the country's culture while being true to themselves.

During the trip Ahja was fortunate to bond with other BuildOn participants. “When I was in Haiti, I shared a room with this young girl named Ely, who went to Western High School. Spending time with her was amazing, we had the best talks in the world,” she said. 

Brooks said that the best memory that she has about Haiti was one day after it hadn't rained in 10 days, it finally started to rain and everyone on the team started dancing and singing in the rain.

“By the end of our mission I had an amazing time and I will not regret going to this third world country,” she said. “Haiti was an eye-opening experience. Going to Haiti has made me open my eyes and see that I have come of age.”