The National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) is dedicated to enhancing the nation’s capacity for the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture by sharing cutting-edge practices and examples with educators and policymakers.

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Performers at the 2015 National Chinese Language Conference in Atlanta.

The 2015 National Chinese Language Conference in Atlanta kicked off Thursday with speeches and performances that showed off the fruits of American and Chinese cultural exchanges.

Carter Center China Program Director Yawei Liu began by reading a note from former President Jimmy Carter thanking the College Board and Asia Society for education programs that help Chinese and American students better understand the world and become productive citizens. “These efforts are particularly significant to me, as it was Deng Xiaoping and I who opened the door for our countries’ students to learn about one another’s culture,” Carter’s letter read.

Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski invoked the mission John D. Rockefeller III founded Asia Society on in 1956, saying, “To build bridges of understanding and knowledge between the U.S. and Asia, [Rockefeller] insisted that it not be just a matter of policy. You need to know culture and the language.”

After remarks by President and CEO of the College Board David Coleman and Chief Executive Xu Lin of Confucius Institute Headquarters (hanban), American high school students who’ve benefited from Chinese language programs flexed their Mandarin muscles through traditional Chinese song, instrumental, and calligraphy performances. Comedians Jesse Appell and Nicholas Angiers took the cultural-linguistic exchange in the opposite direction by performing a Chinese xiangsheng (crosstalk) routine in English. The evening was capped with a live-performance of Appell’s PSY parody “Laowai Style” that went viral and brought him nationwide fame in China.