Note: various links or
other references may be mentioned below that no longer apply.
Sorry for the
January update (Jan 4, 2009)
The New Year
has begun, and Chinese New Year is only a few weeks away. On January 26,
we leave the year of the mouse and start the year of the ox.
Let's hope that means we can be "bullish" (positive) about the future!
Tomorrow I give a final exam to my 120 post-grad students, so I'm looking
forward to the "Spring Break" that begins once I turn in my grades later
this week. I begin teaching again on February 25, so we'll have over a
month away from regular teaching duties. I work day and night while
teaching (preparing materials and lesson plans, and marking papers), so
I'm looking forward to some rest. I'll also be working on materials for
the next term, and hopefully can give this website some long-overdue
Andrew's school is
on a more "western" calendar, so he had two weeks off for Christmas/New
Year (and starts back tomorrow). Vivian's tasks never end, but maybe the
next month will give her more rest than usual as well.
We know that
January won't be "all work" because we're also looking forward to a visit
from an American friend, and to a week-long trip to Hong Kong for the
annual Jian Hua Foundation conference. We also plan to invite friends over
for a movie night and game night sometime soon.
December was full of Christmas fun. Over
the next few weeks, I hope to add more photos to
year's Christmas fun page (you can also see memory-pages for
2007, 2006 and
before). As always, look on
the bottom of this "Current Update" page to find out
close, I'll simply say it has been a delight to teach this semester's
post-grads at Kunming Medical University. We took a group photo recently,
so I'll paste it on the "Students now"
missed it last month,
click here to read a poem
I wrote a few years ago when economic times were also pretty bad
(especially for a recent grad); it helped me
put things in
as few things
like Christmas can! May the joy of these holidays help you get the new
year off to a good start. While it's true that the world is filled with
problems, there is also a lot to be thankful and optimistic about!
Wishing you a Happy New Year!
Michael for the family
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February update (Feb 11, 2009)
We were having a wonderful time in
Hong Kong until February 7 (at a conference for
expatriates), so I'm posting this page late. As I said last month, I
return to classes on Feb. 25, but Andrew is already back in school. Vivian
is busy working on the forms we have to file for US taxes (among many
other tasks), and I'm getting ready for next term while trying to update
and file things on my computer. Yesterday I picked up 70 copies of the
textbook I'll use with my post-grad students (Great Ideas from
Cambridge Press), and I'm looking forward to continuing to teach these
It is chocolate and flower time again--that's right, the signs of
Valentine's Day are even visible here in China.
Because of the holiday's growing popularity, I've just posted a
new page that introduces this interesting historic
I hope to post more pages before school resumes, so check the "what
is new" section later this month, but that's all
Enjoying Kunming's early spring, Michael for the family
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What is new?
My main goal for February was to finish
some pages about our wonderful summer trip to Alaska,
so there are now four
main pages for you to look
at! Enjoy the beautiful animals and
scenery! Also (in addition to the new family
photo above), I added an introduction to
Valentine's Day to my "holiday collection",
added a newspaper clipping (in Chinese) about the
Yunnan Friendship Award, added more photos (finally) of our 2008 "Christmas
fun," and added some old "college days" photos to the
Pennsylvania page. I
also finished adding student essays about some challenges that face China.
update (Mar 4, 2009)
The new term is under
way. I have fewer classes this term, but that could change any day. The
Board of Trustees meetings are coming this weekend, so preparation for
that has been keeping Vivian busy, and of course there are always lots of
extra things to do. As you'll see in the "what
is new" section (below), I've added a new EFL
Movie Study Guide (Paulie),
and completed four main pages about our summer
trip, as well as adding resources
for my students.
That's all for now,
but things are always changing so be sure to look at "what
is new" whenever you visit!
In windy Kunming, Michael for the
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update (Apr 5, 2009)
March, Michael got three extra classes (sophomores, to add to his
three post-graduate classes). They are attentive students, who are
losing their fear of opening their mouths. Several have said that most of
their English classes have focused on reading and learning words or
grammar, so it is a refreshing change to focus on speaking English
during Michael's classes.
The end of
March also brought some medical needs. A pain in Vivian's foot led us to
get help from two of Michael's former students, who discovered that she
has a bone spur. We are grateful that they helped her
start "walking" down the road to recovery. Michael's chest had also been
uncomfortable, so current students and the university's Foreign Affairs
Office went out of their way to help him get several heart-tests done. The
results showed that his heart is very healthy, so the pain must be related
to diet or the digestion system, and new medicine has already started to
help him feel better.
16th birthday. In addition to dinner at Pizza Hut on the second, Vivian
made him a cake and he invited some classmates for an overnight party.
I’ve used this as an excuse to update
here to see the new photos.
Vivian remains busy
with office-volunteer responsibilities. Last month we met with the
Board of Trustees, and this month we are expecting important visitors from
Hong Kong for additional important meetings.
Finally, this year
April has both a Chinese and a Christian lunar holiday related to
"graves." April 6 is Qingming (清明), or "tomb-sweeping day." Many friends
and colleagues are going off to mountainsides or graveyards to clean the
grave of an ancestor. An interesting custom related to this holiday is
that they burn paper copies of things the deceased person might need in
"heaven," like a car, new clothes, a cell phone, a house, and (most
popularly) money. The other holiday is Easter (复活节), April 12, when
Christians in China and around the world celebrate the “empty tomb,” i.e.,
the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified. He told his followers
that they didn’t need to fear death anymore, because his sacrifice
provided everything we need for eternal life. (You can read a children’s
story I wrote about Easter by
So, it will be another busy month, but
Easter in particular makes April a wonderfully joyous time of year for us,
and we hope it will be for you too!
In Kunming, Michael & Vivian
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May update (May 9,
Where does the time go? It is the ninth, and I've just
realized that I have not added a May update. I guess it is just a
particularly busy time of the year. In the past two weeks I've given an
exam to my grad students and a quiz to my undergrads. And while Vivian
does a lot of the grading, I grade the "hard part" (subjective items),
which takes a lot of time to mark. On top of that, we've been battling
colds and computer problems, as well as entertaining guests from
out-of-town or preparing for more of the same. The latter is a joy (we
are looking forward to a visit from Michael's sister and her husband
this month), but viruses (in our bodies or computers) certainly sap our
strength and time.
As always, you can see recent changes in the "What's
new" section below. I hope to update the Far and Away movie guide
in the next day or two, but otherwise I wouldn't expect many new things
in the weeks ahead. Hopefully I'll have time to do more in June and
during the summer.
Busy as always,
Michael & Vivian
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What is new?
In April I made major changes/additions to
the Narnia Movie Study Guide and to
Andrew's page, and added a page called "Fun
with Students & Friends." In March, we added a movie study guide
and I've started to add
I also added more comments for foreign teachers
related to the TEM-4 exam (as well as an exercise related to
topic sentences and conclusions).
June/July (June 20, 2009)
June is two-thirds over (so I won't change this update again until
August), but it is not hard to understand why a teacher is busier than
usual at this time of year. I gave my final exams last Thursday, and
Vivian and I are still working on marking them all. My graduate school
classes also finished last week. It was hard to say goodbye after spending
a year with these bright "future doctors."
Speaking of doctors, another reason for my inability to create an update
is that I had minor surgery two weeks ago. A cyst was removed from my
leg/seat area, so it is (still) painful to sit down. I can stand for hours
when I'm teaching, but it is hard to stand in my office and type for more
than a few minutes! This inability to sit has led to a lot of time lying
on the sofa with movies on. While that has been enjoyable, my "to do on
the computer" list just keeps getting longer.
People ask what we plan to do this summer. Well, as mentioned above, I
have a list of "things to do" that I couldn't complete in a lifetime,
while Vivian and Andrew could probably say the same. Most of our
"projects" involve a computer, so once my wound clears up, that is where I
will be (and most of the time, all three of our home computers are running
at the same time). Andrew will be taking summer school courses (via the
Internet) to get him up to the level expected by his new Internet-based
high school. The Kunming International Academy (where he has been happily
studying since 2005) raised their prices so much that we couldn't afford
to keep him there next year--his tuition fee would be higher than my
salary at the Medical University.
In addition to the change in Andrew's school, my own university is moving
to Cheng Gong. The new campus is over an hour away, so I'll be spending a
lot of time next year on a bus. There are no apartments near the school,
so we will keep living in Kunming (unless our rent goes up, in which case
we'll have to weigh our options). These changes, of course, will limit
Andrew's contact with friends and limit our cherished interaction with
students, but we really don't have many options. Hopefully, things will
work out OK, or we'll find a better situation for the following year.
Other summer plans include a few days in Guilin to celebrate our 20th
wedding anniversary, followed by time in Hong Kong to help lead a seminar
for newly-arriving professionals who plan to work in China. Otherwise, we
will just stay in Kunming and try to shorten our "to do" lists!
Well, I'd better close. I haven't added much to this website lately, but
look at the "What is new" section below to see changes or additions. Maybe
I'll get around to a few more additions over the summer.
Tired of changes, but still enjoying life in China,
Michael for the family
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August/September update (August 19, 2009)
Summer has been fun, and now we are looking forward to
meeting new students (and trying to stay in touch with busy former
students, too!). Over the next week or so, Michael will be getting
materials ready, because university classes are about to resume. But as
the summer fades away, it is clear that we won't be able to update our
website as we had hoped. Sorry if you find pages that are out of date
and links that no longer work. There is always so much to do, and so
little spare time!
For most of July, the three of us spent a lot of time
working on our computers. Michael was sorting files, and converting VHS
tapes into DVDs (it is a slow process, but the results have been good).
Andrew has been playing games, but he has also been learning to use new
software and taking some classes via the Internet. (This will help him
prepare for "home schooling," which starts a week from now.) Vivian has
been working on various projects, including preparation for her lectures
at an orientation program for foreign professionals who are new to
Because our 20th Wedding Anniversary fell in early
August, we decided to celebrate in Guilin. Michael has been wanting to
take Vivian and Andrew there for many years, but we could never find the
time. He visited twice while studying in Xiamen (1985-87). It is just as
beautiful as he remembered it, though it was much hotter than we all
expected! Next time, we won't go in August! (Sorry, we haven't had time
to create a web page from our hundreds of photos, but you'll now find
Guilin on our free wallpaper page!)
After visiting Guilin, we went to Hong Kong. There, we
helped with an orientation program (as mentioned above). We are grateful
for the chance to help others get started in a fulfilling career in this
wonderful country. While thinking about that, Michael wrote a new
article to tell people about the benefits of working "in a place where
people need you."
As always, keep your eyes on the "What is new?" section
below to see what changes on our website. If you are new to Krigline.com,
there is plenty to see (even if some of it is out of date!).
Getting ready for an active autumn,
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update (October 3, 2009)
We had a busy September, meeting new students, traveling back and forth
to my school's new campus in Cheng Gong, and helping Andrew get started
as a "home schooler." At the moment we are in a week-long holiday,
celebrating National Day and the annual Mid-Autumn Festival. While we
enjoy a bit of rest, we will also be keeping our computers busy,
creating teaching resources, trying to get files organized, and staying
in communication with friends both near and far.
On October 1, we took the time to watch the televised festivities from
the capital city. Seeing the Forbidden City once again brought back
memories of the way things were in 1985 when I first arrived in China,
and in 1987 when I lived in Beijing. There were no private cars, no
super highways, no international department stores or western fast-food
restaurants. Life was pretty slow and simple, though in my memory,
China's cities and the city buses were as crowded as they are now. Such
memories make today's China all the more remarkable. In 25 years, they
have built almost as many highways as there are in the US; huge dams
span many rivers, creating electric power for the modern conveniences
that fill stores and homes. Private cars are everywhere--clogging the
streets and clouding the air, but also bringing convenience to their
owners. Tall buildings with remarkable architecture have sprung from the
ground like flowers in the spring, replacing the low skylines I remember
with modern cities. Airports have also sprung up everywhere--many of
them as beautiful as they are busy.
A few days ago, New China turned 60 years old. The spectacular parades
and festivities in Beijing showed that the people of China have a lot to
be proud of, and we are grateful for the chance to contribute in our own
little way. We also add our voices to those around the world who wish
China continued progress, especially in the areas that still lag behind.
May her hopes for harmony, so constantly a part of the celebration, come
true; and may the years ahead bring even greater peace: personally,
nationally and worldwide.
Happy Birthday China!
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This year, our "monthly"
update has turned into an "every other month" update; I keep thinking that
our schedules are about to become less hectic, but it just never happens.
My current routine for Monday-Tuesday in
is like a tightly-packed timetable. Between Monday at 5:30 (when I rise)
and Tuesday at 7 (when I get home for dinner), I spend about four hours
getting to/from campus, 14 hours teaching or talking to students, and 4.5
hours marking papers; add meals, sleep, and walking from place to place on
our huge campus, and it leaves very little free time. Many students think
I'm "on vacation" for the rest of the week, unaware of the time it takes
to mark homework essays, create the next lesson/Power Point and refine
materials to make them better for the future. Add email and other
important communication, various projects I'm always working on, family
time, Sunday activities, and unplanned emergencies (like when our walls
started leaking last month, initiating two weeks of repairs), and the time
just seems to disappear.
I'm not really
complaining. Who likes to be bored? Overall, my life is very satisfying.
I'm part of a happy family, I enjoy my work, I feel that I'm seeing
progress in my students' English, and indirectly I'm making a contribution
to the development of China and her people.
Christmas is now upon
us, and that adds another important dimension to life. I love the colors,
sights, sounds and tastes of the season, and my family loves sharing these
with others. Last weekend, several students came over to help us decorate
for Christmas and eat pancakes. They enjoyed this unusual syrupy treat,
added lights and ornaments happily to the Christmas tree, and sat with
rapt attention while a DVD introduced them to the historical
I sensed that most had never heard before.
Like last year,
we'll have local friends or students over every weekend to play games,
make greeting cards or watch a movie like "A Christmas Carol" (maybe I'll
create a new study guide soon for that favorite classic film). On the
12th, I've been asked to sing some of my songs at a Christmas concert in
Kunming, and we are also looking forward to teaching foreign kids about
Christmas every Sunday morning this month.
Amidst all this
busy-ness, it is sometimes hard to remember that Christmas is just an
ordinary day for most of China's 1.4 billion people. Like Scrooge, some
have no use for the holiday, but most just know too little about it to
really enter in to the joyous spirit. Of course, China also has a growing
Christian population who celebrate Jesus' birth (that's really the heart
of Christmas) with unparalleled joy. They call Christmas Eve "ping an ye"
("peaceful/silent night"), and have created a tradition of giving out
apples that day ("apple" sounds like "peace" in Chinese). The churches
will be packed on Christmas eve with both the faithful and the curious
(the last time we went, the doors had to be locked because even the aisles
were full). As we walk and shop in December, we are no longer surprised to
hear Christmas songs (in English and Chinese), though it is still a
refreshing surprise to see a manger scene or other traditional decorations
(because "the American
Santa" is the decoration
that most Chinese people associate with the holiday). We'll keep doing our
part to present a more complete picture of Christmas. Just as we enjoy
learning about and celebrating Chinese National Day, "Moon-cake Day," and
Spring Festival, we know that many of our local friends enjoy learning
about the world's most popular annual celebration--officially recognized
in over 100 countries.
To help people
understand Christmas, I've posted several resources on this website. Click
these underlined words to find pages about the
traditional Christmas story,
who is Santa (圣诞老人)?,
and the pre-Christmas Advent season. You'll
also find movie study guides for several great holiday films: A
Snoopy/Charlie Brown Christmas, Last Holiday,
White Christmas, and It's
a Wonderful Life.
Wishing you and
yours a merry Christmas,
Michael Krigline for the family
By the way, Vivian has posted several new
photo pages to her scrapbook website. They are more elaborate than the
simple photo pages on krigline.com, so they load slowly in China, but you
might enjoy seeing her nice pictures. Click here to start your journey:
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