At the age of five, while on his way his kindergarten in Guangan City, Sichuan Province, Luo Gang (not his birth-name) was abducted and taken 1,500 kilometers from home to Sanming, Fujian province.
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There, he received a new set of parents and a new name, and later went on to graduate school, finish military service, and by all accounts, live a relatively normal life for the next 23 years. But he never forgot where he came from.
According to Luo, since the day of his capture, every night before bed he would remind himself of what his hometown of origin looked like. As his memories naturally faded with age, the one thing that stood out was a set of two bridges.
Last year, Luo visited a website that provides services for victims of abduction, and posted a roughly-drawn map of his hometown. About six months later, he received a message from a volunteer who told him that a couple in Guangan, Sichuan had lost a son 23 years ago.
With the matching timeline a promising start, Luo turned to the satellite view of Google Maps to see if the town looked familiar. To his astonishment, he found the exact set of bridges that had remained in his memory located in Yaojiaba, not far from Guangan.
What ensued was a tearful reunion with Luo’s birth family, during which he learned that his birth name was Huang Yun, and that he was the first born son among a family that included three younger sisters.
The story bears a strong resemblance to that of a man in Australia who rediscovered the family he had lost in India, which surfaced last autumn. Reports of this latest one remain unconfirmed, but since it puts a smile on our face, we’re sticking with it.
I’ll avoid talking about a tired meme that begins with an F, ends in an S, and the middle is “irstworldproblem.” But as many of us in the tech blogosphere associate crowdsourcing with dubious Kickstarter projects, and Google Maps with nights out on the town, Luo’s story is a potent reminder that the cool gadgets and tools we access every day shouldn’t be taken for granted.