In 2001, Emmanuel came to America with only a shirt, a pair of pants, flip-flops, and what he called his "most important luggage"—his beloved picture of Veronica, which was tucked inside his Bible.
He started school and a new life in North Carolina, eventually enrolling at the University of North Carolina, where he is pre-med student with a double major in biology and psychology.
Emmanuel remained in close contact with his friends, who had been dispersed around the world. "It's the way the immigration works. They were sending people there [to] Canada, the U.S. and also Australia," he says. "The embassy would come and pick you randomly."
One Christmas, he traveled to visit friends in Canada. When he walked into a church, he was shocked by what he saw. "When I opened the door, looking into the aisle, I saw Veronica. I thought I was dreaming," he says. "I was jumping over the benches and I was running towards her because I recognized her face. We just ran into each other."
When Emmanuel produced the photo he'd been carrying with him for so long, Veronica began to cry. "I was holding onto the picture hoping that I would one day see her. … I just knew in my heart that I would see Veronica one day," he says.