Immanuel Asare flew from Germany to the United States two months ago to help rebuild homes that were damaged by hurricanes in New Orleans.
But then the 20-year-old took a side trip to Chicago, where in less than 48 hours a bullet ripped through his arm.
He was walking with a friend in Bridgeport over the weekend when two cars pulled up, someone shouted slang he didn’t understand and at least five shots were fired as the two scrambled away.
“Lots of people question, ‘Why me? Why did I get shot?’” Asare said from his room at Stroger Hospital. “I don’t feel like that. It was part of my journey.”
This was Asare’s first time visiting the city. The trip had been planned after he grew close to other German volunteers during training before they were sent off on their assignments around the world. Those dispatched to Chicago offered him a place to stay.
On Friday, he visited The Bean in Millennium Park and other tourist spots, eventually making his way back to his friends’ home to play cards and catch up. As the hours stretched into early Saturday, he and a friend decided to step outside and talk about their futures. They heard Bridgeport was safe, so they weren’t concerned about being out past 1 a.m.
They were out for only 10 minutes when Asare spotted headlights coming toward them. Asare asked what kind of car it was, and his friend said he didn’t know. He just knew it wasn’t the police. The headlights grew brighter until two cars stopped in front of them. A window rolled down and a man who looked to be about his age stared out and asked him where he was from.