2003 Archive

This website's Main Pages (click to go there)   Home 主页    Current Update 当前更新    Resources 学习资源    Photos 影集 

  Links 友情链接    Things We've Written 我的文集   Special Features 本站特色    Site Map 本站导航    Real World 英语写作 

I've stopped updating this website, though it's pages will remain for a while. See "current update" for details.

Visit instead: wp.krigline.com and EFLsuccess.com

Sister-pages:   Home Up 2013 Archive 2012 Archive 2011 Archive 2010 Archive 2009 Archive 2008 Archive 2007 Archive 2006 Archive 2005 Archive 2004 Archive 2003 Archive 2002 Archive 2001 Archive 2000 Archive

(▲ Links to the pages at the same level as this page. If you can't see the label, put your mouse over a button and look at the bottom of your browser.)

Jan 2003

Feb 2003

Mar 2003

Mar-B 2003

Apr 2003 May 2003

June 2003

July-Aug 03

Sept 2003

Oct 2003

Nov 2003

Dec 2003

Note: various links or other references may be mentioned below that no longer apply. Sorry for the inconvenience.


January 3, 2003


Dear Friends, 


In the USA, January is often a depressing time. The holidays are over (and credit card bills arrive to rub it in!), and everything turns from red/green to gray. In China, we experience the opposite. January means that Chinese New Year (and thus the biggest family reunion of the year) is just around the corner! Red lanterns and posters begin to appear, as well as other colorful holiday decorations. Students leave school for a long break, and adults look forward to two weeks off as well. All of this produces a happy atmosphere which is quite contagious.


As the month begins, Michael is buried in final projects and exams (Vivian finished her teaching duties on December 31). But by mid-January all of this will be history, and we can take time away from our hectic work schedules to relax and catch up on other things. In early February we will join other foreign colleagues in Hong Kong for a conference, from which we rush back to begin the next term.


We hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season. We certainly did, and Andrew has especially enjoyed the Lego sent over from the US. We also wish you and yours Heaven's richest blessings in the new year.


Michael, Vivian and Andrew           (back to top) 


PS: I continue to have trouble uploading things to this website. There seems to be no pattern for the problems, and no key to the solution, but I will keep trying to keep our website current and full of interesting things to see!



February 1, 2003

Dear Friends, 

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! This is the first day of the Year of the Ram. (Actually, the same Chinese character can be translated ram, sheep, and sometimes even goat or lamb. The same is true for the character for mouse / rat.) But whether the next 12 months are the year of the Ram or of the Lamb, we hope they are filled with blessing for you and your family!

In a few days we will leave Xi'an's snow for sunny "spring" days (hopefully!) in Hong Kong, where we will see friends and attend a conference. We will return in time for Michael's first staff meeting, February 14. The new term should be about the same as the old term. Most of Michael's students did well, but final exams showed some weaknesses that need to be dealt with. Michael is also preparing a new class about "Sherlock Holmes" that should be a lot of fun. Vivian and Andrew get a few extra days off before returning to classes.

We used part of our holiday to revise many parts of this website. Structural changes should help make better use of your computer screen, and we added more internal links to help you move around. However, a few new photos and articles are also available, so if you haven't "surfed" here lately, look around! We would also like to know what you think of our work to link east and west via www.krigline.com.

Happy a blessed and prosperous new year!

Michael Krigline for Vivian and Andrew

Apparently, the job of uploading things to this website will continue to be a challenge. Sometimes my software deletes old pages but fails to upload replacements, with strange results for the viewer! Likewise, if you are viewing it IN China you may find many pages loading VERY slowly. Sorry for the inconvenience.
     What is new? In addition to numerous structural changes you will find a few changes on our Xi'an and Student photo pages. The interactive "Better English" worksheet is new (and took a lot of effort!). There's also a new photo of Andrew with his "dog" collection, and I finished adding all the Sunday speeches I gave in Shanghai to our Articles page.       
(back to top) 



March 1, 2003


Dear Friends, 


The Chinese New Year holidays are over and we are all back to work. We enjoyed our short trip to Hong Kong (see the new photos of both Hong Kong and Macao), even though both Andrew and Michael got sick there and Vivian had two teeth pulled (ouch!). Because of a cold, Michael's ear was damaged on our return flight, but it cleared up in a week or so. Andrew is fine as well, and Vivian's mouth pain eventually departed, too. It just goes to show that we can't take the blessing of good health for granted!


Michael's new Sherlock Holmes class started last week. About 75 students attended! The great detective is popular here, though most people have not read or seen him in action in English. If this six-week course goes well, we may find other excuses to do fun things in the future!


Vivian starts teaching again in a few days. Since she will only have one class this term, she is also looking for a Chinese tutor. Michael is thinking about working on his Chinese this summer as well. We can both "get around" fine, but there is SO MUCH more to learn!


Thanks for stopping by. Drop us a note if you have a minute!


Michael, Vivian and Andrew           (back to top) 




March 21, 2003

Ever since bombs started dropping in the gulf a few days ago, with a heavy heart I have been trying to put my feelings about the situation into words. My thoughts are detailed in a rather long essay (no longer available on line, but I'll send a copy by email if you request it). Here is a summary of my perspective:

Like the vast majority of Americans, I hate war. But while we yearn for the day of universal peace, I know that wars will be an ugly part of human existence. Throughout history, military actions have been waged by many types of people for many reasons, both selfish and altruistic, and historians rarely agree upon which wars were necessary or justified—in this respect the current situation is rather typical. Frankly, I wish the US could bring all of its soldiers home, but history teaches us that the only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. In the current crisis, I think more effort should have been exerted to secure the support of the United Nations, but the Security Council has also shown a lack of will to follow through on its own words in spite of 12 years of Iraqi defiance. In the future I hope the UN will learn to speak and act with more resolution, and I hope the US will work harder to act in cooperation with other nations. In these unsettling days, my heart goes out to the US President (and other world leaders), coalition forces, and the people of Iraq; and I pray for a quick end to hostilities, redirecting the world’s attention to its many other problems, and providing a fresh start for the people of Iraq.

Michael Krigline         (back to top)  



April 1, 2003


Dear Friends, 


I am finding it hard to write a monthly update--just as it is hard to carry out other "normal" activities when our world is at war. I've said enough about that conflict in an essay so I will say little here, even though it is impossible to keep it out of my thoughts for long.

The conflict has not had much effect on our daily lives. Very few students have brought up the conflict to me personally. Domestic marches or rallies are being discouraged, though the media makes it clear that China wanted to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to bring about Iraq's compliance to UN Resolution 1441.

Vivian's class has gotten off to a good start. Almost half of her 24 students came over to see a movie last week, and the others will follow soon. Around 50 students have participated in my special "Sherlock Holmes" class, which ends next week. I have also received permission to show two American movies on campus (the greatest ever made in terms of number of Oscars won). Over 100 students from many different departments saw the first one last weekend, and the other one is set for Easter time. Meanwhile, I led an interesting discussion of the Titanic disaster at our last English Corner (and plan a similar campus discussion this month). My classes also continue to go well, and I feel that my writing students are making good progress.

Andrew got a big head start on his birthday when his grandparents bought him a computer! We spent the weekend installing educational and "Lego" software brought from America, and Andrew has enjoyed the new tool immensely! His school work is also going well, and apart from minor bouts with sickness we are all doing fine.

Staying busy with work, I have not done much to this website in the past month, but there are probably lots of old photos and articles you have not had the chance to see. Thanks for stopping by to visit. Keep praying for the leaders of our world, and for the people of Iraq. Vivian and I recently had a chance to watch documentaries about September 11 and about China's long, bloody history. The headlines echo the pain and suffering of humanity's past. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the calendar reminds us that Easter is just ahead: the day when unbelievable pain brought eternal life to all who seek it and which also contained a promise that our world will one day live in peace.


Michael Krigline for the family           (back to top)  






May 5, 2003

A month ago the conflict in the Middle East controlled the headlines and preoccupied our thoughts. Today, attention has shifted to the microscopic battle with a new virus called SARS. We are relieved that the struggle in Iraq ended so quickly, and we pray that the SARS situation will be equally short-lived.

China is taking SARS very seriously. Even though there have been less than TEN suspected cases in my province (among over 36 MILLION people), extensive measures are being taken to limit the risks. At our university (like all others we know of), most of the gates have been sealed. Students are not allowed to leave and no one can enter campus without a special permit. A cup of herbal medicine comes with every meal at the campus restaurant, and a school car now carries us to and from campus. With the universities in “lock down” operation, local stores and restaurants are going out of business (as are many restaurants around town). Likewise, busses go by empty, with the few riders inside wearing cloth masks. Security guards at most apartment complexes (like ours) must also wear masks and gloves, and non-residents must now sign-in to enter the gates (if they are allowed in at all). At NPU, all three of the other foreign teachers were recalled by their American university. We alone are left.

While we applaud the serious attention being given to SARS, this attention is also giving rise to fear and panic. We see it in our students and colleagues, and among those we talk to on the street. A friend forwarded a helpful email that talks about this fear, and more importantly how to deal with it. (Visit "articles" to read it.) The truth is that we are not afraid, and when people ask us why not, we can only point up to our Father and Friend in heaven. It is times like these that help us see how blessed we are to possess a faith that is greater than our fears.

Thanks for stopping by!
Michael, Vivian & Andrew
        (back to top)  




June 2003

Where does the time fly?! We are staying extra busy these days, teaching, preparing final exams, grading papers, and just living! Though SARS is still keeping our students from leaving campus, the level of fear has decreased substantially, and that is good news.

Another piece of good news is that Andrew and his partner John (from Korea) won first place in their grade at the Xi’an International School Science Fair! Congratulations guys! (If you look on Andrew’s Page you can see a photo of their display.)

That’s all the time I have for this update. I’ll also post a few student essays on SARS, and a new photo or two while I’m getting ready to upload this update. See you next month!

Michael for Vivian and Andrew
        (back to top)  




July-August 2003

Our summer will be filled by teaching English and trying to finish various projects around the apartment (including updating our website and creating a "smaller" version at krigline.com.cn). We have also taken a short trip to Ning-xia (see below) and will visit friends in Shanghai and Beijing.

On June 20, NPU re-opened its gates—officially ending students’ SARS confinement. Now (in mid-July) it seems like SARS is a part of the distant past. Isn’t it funny how the things that so powerfully capture our attention usually fade into the mists of our past once a crisis is over? What a pity it would be if the world has learned nothing from the big crisis of 2003, but if history is any teacher, we will all too quickly forget. Soon, we will again turn blind eyes to danger signals as other dictators (like Saddam) arise, and drift back into comfortable patterns of lazy hygiene as other diseases enter our vocabulary—to the peril of ourselves, our family members, and our neighbors both near and far. Humanity seems determined to re-live the errors of the past, ignoring so much of the Light that is available to guide our ways.

In early July we spent a wonderful week in neighboring Ningxia Province. I hope to soon post a new photo page or two covering our adventure. We saw the broken remains of the Western Xia dynasty (annihilated by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty), climbed the almost-unrecognizable remains of part of the Great Wall (its brick covering long ago stripped away to build other things), rode camels and sleds through the awesome shifting sands of the Tengger desert, and drifted on a sheep-skin raft down the Yellow River (China’s “mother” and “sorrow”).

China is a wonderful classroom for those who would learn from history. Desert and river boundaries shift, and dynasties come and go, while communities flourish for a while and then (like the crises mentioned above) fade into the mists of the past. Like the 5000-year-old rock carvings we saw (hundreds of pictures with unknown meanings), we all leave a mark for future generations to see, but how many will understand the messages we consider so important?

Are humans doomed to continuously repeat the cycle of crisis, opportunity, advancement, and ignorance? Probably—because participation in this cycle is the choice we all make when we choose not to learn. Two sayings come to mind:

-- It is better to study nothing than to study a lot without thinking. Chinese Proverb
-- Search for wisdom as you would for hidden treasure and you will understand what it means to know the Lord God; all wisdom comes from the Lord, and so do common sense and understanding. Proverbs 2:4-6 (The Bible)

This summer, you may not have a chance to gain first-hand knowledge by visiting a forgotten civilization or ever-changing desert, but I hope you will take the time to consider the future in the Light of the past.

Teaching and learning in China,

Michael Krigline for Vivian and Andrew    
 (back to top)  




September 6, 2003

September is always interesting for college teachers in China. We know when the term starts and ends, but the special days that cancel classes (holidays, sports days, convocations, etc.), are not announced until they get closer. In addition, we may have to wait a few weeks into the term to learn the extent of our duties. This is because NPU sophomores, juniors and seniors (and I assume this is true at other universities) register for classes the afternoon before the first day of class, post-graduate students arrive after the first week, and freshmen don't begin until a few weeks of military training have concluded. Until everyone is on campus and registered, the teachers are unsure about just how many students we will have, and for that matter which classes need to be taught or when.

Textbooks are interesting, too. Teachers get their new textbooks two days before classes start (if they are available--some of mine were not!). Students paid 500RMB ($60US) when they were freshmen to cover most of the books they would need over the next four years. These books are usually available before the first day of class. Students also spend about 80RMB ($10US) per term for special books (like the ones for my classes), and they get these anywhere from the day before class to a few weeks later. (Two of my classes showed up without books the first day, making me change my lesson plan at the last minute.)

This is all quite different from my college days in the US, when students registered for September classes in May, and thus teachers had all summer to prepare. The main exception was intensive English classes that remained open until the "last minute" (if not throughout the term!), but at least we knew which books we would be using far in advance. Furthermore, American students need to buy their textbooks before classes start each term (and Chinese students reel to learn that even used books can cost $400US per term!).

My first week went pretty well. I have a 40-student class (Business English for Seniors) that meets four hours per week, two 24-member classes (Junior Writing) who meet two hours each, and a two-hour 96-member class of advanced Juniors who are learning about US Culture (I'm splitting this class into two sections next week). I taught all except the new "96" last year, so we are building on some good relationships. Vivian knows she will teach six hours to around 90 students this term, including English conversation classes for military teachers and a culture/video class for Ph.D. students, but details are forthcoming.

In addition to the above, I spent several hours participating in a local TV talk show discussion about marriage, and have been busy proofreading the English translation for documents related to my university's upcoming 65th anniversary celebration. Maybe by next month we will know what else we are up to (including meals and movies with students), and can tell you more about the school's anniversary, too!

Andrew has gotten off to a great start with 5th grade. The International School has many new teachers this year, enrollment is up, and changes in their class structure seem to be working well. Andrew really likes his new teacher, Mrs. Kim, and is looking forward to a great term. I'm sure he will continue to play with the neighborhood kids he got to know this summer, but he is also very happy that his foreign friends are finally returning from family vacations abroad. Beth continues to do well back in S.C., and keeps busy with her work and other activities!

Staying flexible in China,
Michael Krigline for Vivian and Andrew

What is new? In July/August we spent a lot of time enhancing this website. New items include: a "smaller" version of this site at www.krigline.com.cn (that hopefully will load quicker for our Chinese students); a link to help students find English names (plus more helpful links for students and teachers); pictures (and Vivian's vacation report) from our trips to Beijing, Ning Xia and the Sha-po-tou desert; a map of China (linked to the photo pages) and a map of the USA (along with answers to frequently asked questions); new pictures of our students (including a look at our classroom and a movie crowd); a new Lego creation from Andrew; new photos under "Life in China;" a photo of Bao Shan; Vivian's meditation on "paper towels;" a few more "favorite links;" a slight revision of my comments on witchcraft-mania; and our updated calendar. We have reached the maximum space allowed for this website, so "Shanghai Apartment Photos," "Chosen Instruments" (downloadable music file), "Missing Hazel," and several articles are gone, and over the coming months we may delete or alter other articles or pages (so take a look while you can!), including: Xi'an Christmas photos, Shipping Damage photos, and Andrew's page.
       (back to top)  




October 1, 2003


       October will be a month of celebrations. Oct.1 is China's National Day. That's like America's Fourth of July, but the Chinese make it a week-long holiday (Americans only get one day off!). October 4 is the traditional Double Nine holiday. Since "nine" sounds like "old" in Chinese, this holiday is about honoring one's elders, and senior citizens in general.
       October 8 is NPU's 65th anniversary celebration. The administration has been busy for the past year, building, refurbishing, rearranging and beautifying all sorts of things. The place is so much more attractive and functional than it was a year ago, that it is almost like working in a new place altogether. Congratulations, NPU, on 65 years of fruitful service!
       Miscellaneous other celebrations are also in store. On October 31 Michael's grandmother turns 99, and four other relatives celebrate October birthdays, too (Vivian's niece on the 7th, her brother on the 16th, and Michael's sister and niece on Oct. 30; Michael's dad had a BD last month--click here to read a poem about him). We understand that the NPU freshmen want us to lead the foreign teachers in a few songs as part of their post-military training celebration on Oct. 11, and Michael will also lead the singing at a gathering of expatriates toward the end of the month.
       A friend wrote a book several years ago called Life is a Party, and it looks like life will be rather lively for the Kriglines over the next few weeks!

Celebrating in China,
Michael, Vivian and Andrew
      (back to top)  



November 2, 2003 (Sunday)


        Sorry this monthly update is late. Yesterday was Saturday, November 1, and I had planned to work on this website on my day off. But on Friday our university moved tomorrow to yesterday, so I had to teach. This afternoon (while I was teaching Tuesday's class), they told us that tomorrow would be yesterday, giving us two days to prepare for our Wednesday classes. But about an hour later they called to say that tomorrow would be Wednesday and yesterday had moved to Thursday. Of course, the good news about this is that we get four days off next weekend, since Thursday and Friday will be last Saturday and Sunday, followed by next Saturday and Sunday--at least that is what will happen if nothing else changes. If this doesn't make sense to you, you have obviously never lived or worked in China. (There REALLY are good reasons for all of this, but it would take too long to explain!)

        As for last month (in which only Oct. 8 was changed to Oct. 11--for the sake of the NPU anniversary), it was not as full of celebration as we had hoped. On Oct. 6 I started coughing, and just as I seemed to be stopping (on Oct. 29) I caught a cold, which has decided to stay a while. In the process I missed a week of class, saw two doctors, drank plenty of fluids, spent untold hours in bed, and took a colorful assortment of medicines. Maybe, if I really get a long restful weekend in early November, I'll be back to normal--whatever "normal" is!

Being flexible in China,
Michael for Vivian and Andrew
      (back to top)  



December 1, 2003


Dear Friends,

        For months now, fatigue due to various respiratory maladies has kept Vivian and I from doing many of the “extras” we like to do for our students and friends. Our students have also suffered through many in-class coughing spells. However, Vivian’s “foreign” medicine has just been re-supplied, and tests done a few days ago at the local hospital may provide needed answers for my condition. God willing, we will both be fully restored soon.
        Speaking of “God willing,” it is Christmas time! Why does this often-misused phrase remind me of Christmas? More than any time of the year except Easter, Christmas reminds us that the Almighty is certainly “willing.” He was willing to leave the comforts of Heaven to live on this backward planet 2000 years ago. The Prince of Peace was willing to come humbly as a baby and grow up in a common family, instead of choosing the pampered life of royalty. He was willing to live and eventually die like the rest of us, so that—if we put our faith in Him—we might never have to suffer the eternal separation of death.
        Christmas is the world’s only birthday in which the one born chose the time, place and circumstances of that event, and the “willingness” demonstrated in those choices helps us to see why this birthday has been celebrated worldwide for so many years!
        We choose to celebrate Christmas with a decorated tree, special parties and movies for our students, and gifts for each other. However you choose to celebrate it, may you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

Michael Krigline for the family

For more information about Christmas, see Michael’s article called “Finding Christmas Anew.”

                                                                       (back to top)  

Click in the boxes below to go to some of our most popular pages. If you get lost, just click "Home."

(There is a "search" box on the home page)


Site map (To search within any page, type "ctrl + f")

Current Update

& how to contact us

Resources  for students & teachers

Links for English Learners

EFL Movie Study Guides

Better Writing Study Guide

Our Students photos

Photo Index

South Carolina & USA photos

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Favorite Links

Things We've Written (articles)

Introduction to China

Life in China photos

Music Page & mp3 downloads

Archive Index

Real World Writing (my textbook)

See our Policy regarding the use of materials available at Krigline.com or Krigline.com.cn