Making Friends and Learning about Culture with Lexus Bivins

Written By: Tahirah Siddiqui

Recently, the Global Perspective Certificate staff sat down for an interview with GPC senior, Lexus Bivins who in addition to the GPC, will be completing a double major in international studies and Spanish language and literature, along with two minors in French language and literature and Chinese studies this May. During the interview, Bivins discussed her experiences with University Performance Program (UPP) at New Mind, an organization which aims to help welcome international students into the Wolfpack community and to provide them with guidance to have a successful academic experience. Currently, UPP focuses on Chinese international students and ways to help them overcome cultural differences and barriers.

For Bivens, “participating in UPP events has been a great way to fulfill the GPC requirements while teaching and learning about Chinese culture by interacting with Chinese students.” She has been able to not only participate in culturally enriching activities but also lead and develop some as well. Bivins has spent the last two years as UPP intern, and throughout her time has been able to participate in a number of valuable experiences, as well as, meet a lot of new friends and colleagues. “I have learned a lot from my fellow interns at UPP about the Chinese culture,” says Lexus. The program encourages both, domestic and international students to apply to be interns and mentors. She mentions, “having a diverse group of interns helps students to feel more at ease and actually enjoy talking with each other, which helps to build strong relationships.”

One of the many UPP programs Bivins participates in is PackPals, which pairs an NC State student with a new international student. The program encourages the students to meet, once a week, to discuss culture and campus life. PackPals is a great way for students to branch out, engage with the campus community, and develop new friendships all while learning about a new culture.

Throughout the year UPP offers a number of engaging activities and events for NC State students to participate in and gain meaningful cultural experience, including, Chinese Culture Corner, which offers students the opportunity to learn and discuss cultural topics while participating in engaging activities like painting the Free Expression Tunnel or learning to make dumplings together. UPP also host an annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration, visits to the agroecology farm, and many more exciting opportunities to meet new people and learn about other cultures. Bivins finds, “these events are exceptionally well planned out and a great way to gain knowledge and friends.” She further explains, “UPP has a lot to offer to NC State students, as it allows students to branch out, enjoy their time at the events, and make new friends”. Additionally, she mentioned, “even for students not specifically interested in learning more about Chinese culture, UPP is still a great way to learn about an international culture different from their own.”

UPP is currently recruiting Orientation CMTs – coach, mentor, trainers for the 10-day international student orientation session this coming August. Training will be held on July 31st, and the orientation session runs from August 1st through 10th. CMTs will serve as activity coordinators, reflection leaders, and teacher assistants. Interested students are encouraged to apply before April 5th, by completing a quick online application.  For students looking to learn more about UPP and the various programs offered, they are encouraged to contact Caroline Cornish, program coordinator and student advisor, or Mina Hogsett, academic specialist and student advisor at UPP.