I was on a sidewalk walking to a meeting across campus. "Give me some bread," said a man who suddenly started walking besides me. 

"Bread? I don't have any bread. I have Skittles. Do you want some Skittles?" as any good Bible college student would reply.

"Huh? Okay, give me some Skittles." I handed my new found 'friend' my bag of skittles and kept on trucking. 20 seconds later he was asking for bread again. Now realizing that I was totally uneducated in street talk, he stopped me and briskly started patting me down. I froze thinking, "What on earth is happening here?!" When he realized my pockets were empty he ripped my backpack off my back and pulled out his gun. "Oh my word, this is the last thing I needed," ran quickly through my mind.

"Walk away," he said.

"Okay." I turned around and walked. The walk towards the street corner felt like the longest 50 yards I have ever walked. Once I turned the corner I took a quick peek behind me and started running.

That November evening I pretty much lost everything of value. My backpack was laden with important items, both legal and personal. That afternoon I had applied for my optional practical training (OPT) at my college international admissions office so I had my passport with my U.S. visa in my backpack. Applying for a new passport and U.S. student visa is no fun. 

Besides loosing my bank cards, checkbook, driver's license, and social security card, I lost my prescription glasses and sunglasses, and several textbooks. 

I remember calling my parents that evening to tell them about my ordeal and asking them to cancel my South African bank card. The next day I cancelled my U.S. bank cards. Three months later I received letters from a credit collection agency. "You owe Nine West $387 and Gap $422. Your checks bounced." Getting police reports and bank letters to the credit agency to prove that my 'friend' had been the one doing the lavish shopping was a pain in the neck.

What did I learn from my gun point experience:
- having had no violent encounters over 18 years in one of the most violent countries (South Africa) does not mean you won't encounter violence in first world places like the U.S.
- don't let fear paralyze you. I may just be stupid, but I kept living in the neighborhood I was mugged in for three years after the incident. I passed my 'Skittle sidewalk' everyday.