Original story by Enid Tsui, posted October 21, 2018 on Post Magazine
Kati Pohler of Michigan has returned to China and is getting to know her birth family. Her emotional reunion with her long-lost Chinese mother, father and sister was watched by millions the world over in a BBC documentary: Meet Me On The Bridge
At 4pm on August 26 last year, 22-year-old Catherine Su Pohler, whom everyone calls Kati, met her Chinese birth parents and older sister for the first time.
Kati’s biological mother, Qian Fenxiang, began to sob when the college student, from the American state of Michigan, arrived at the rendezvous: the Broken Bridge, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Qian ran up to the young woman, whose face so closely resembles her own, flung her arms around the child she had not seen since giving her up at birth, and said repeatedly in Mandarin, “I finally get to see you. Mother is so sorry.”
That heart-rending moment caught the world’s attention. Documentary filmmaker Chang Changfu had been instrumental in bringing the two parties together, and his crew was on hand to record the scene as it unfolded on the eve of the Qixi Festival. The festival is an auspicious one for reunions: the seventh day of the seventh lunar month is the only day of the year when, in Chinese mythology, two star-crossed lovers are allowed to meet on a celestial bridge.
And now, Kati, freshly graduated from college in the US, is back in China. She is currently teaching English at a school in Huaian. On September 22, Kati made an eight-hour bus journey to spend the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend with her Chinese family, at their home in Hangzhou. The family were anxious to ensure Kati’s visit would be perfect. Mid-Autumn Festival is the Chinese equivalent of America’s Thanksgiving, traditionally celebrated with a family feast that is finished off with mooncakes, fruit and wine, and Qian, 48, had cooked up all manner of treats.
Kati says she is considering further studies, either in the US or Europe, in the future. She chose China for her gap year because an American acquaintance involved in a new international school in Huaian offered her a job, and because it “makes sense” for her to be here so that she can learn more about herself and her family.