His time in America is mostly spent on the court

For Edu Povea, home away from home is a ranch, the basketball court and friends’ houses.

Those are good places to be when you’re a foreign exchange student from Spain and attending Flandreau High School.

The 6-foot-1 junior plays for the Fliers as a point guard and sees varsity playing time. He lives with Casey and Carleen Wilson on an acreage about seven miles west of town where the family has horses. Because he is not allowed to drive a car as part of the rules of his program, sometimes he stays with friends in Flandreau in order to spend free time with other teenagers.

“The thing I’m going to miss the most is all the crowds that we have at all the games. Our student section is really good,” he says. In Spain, where he has played basketball since he was a young child, it’s mostly parents cheering at the games, and the crowd doesn’t get as excited, he says.

But here, the band plays and all kinds of people come to cheer, giving the games an entirely different feel. “It is something bigger than basketball,” he says.

Povea, 16, has grown up on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol in a town called Malaga, with a population of about 600,000 people and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world. He lives with his mother, Maria; has a half-brother, Jonzalo; and a father, Manolo, who is a professional basketball coach.

Classes are easier in Flandreau than in his home country, he says. For a big test in Spain, he would have to study a week to do well. Here, he can review study sheets and his notes and do well. He is taking English, chemistry, history and geometry, classes he hopes help prepare him for his senior year in Spain and for college. He is considering becoming a physical education teacher.

Povea is a good addition to the Flandreau basketball team and one of the first off of the bench, says Coach Brendan Sheppard.

“He’s a very outgoing kid,” he says. “He’s adapted very well in school and on the basketball team.”

Although Povea has played basketball in Spain, sometimes rules are slightly different, perhaps allowing for rougher play than in the U.S., Sheppard says. “He doesn’t think he ever fouls.”

Carleen says she has always wanted to host a foreign exchange student and hopes that someday her family can visit Spain.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid,” she says. “For me, it was such a neat experience as a fellow student getting to know these kids.”

Povea fits into their family and is open, genuine and independent. He usually only has one request that he asks of them. He likes to have Oreo cookies on hand, she says. “He eats chocolate incessantly.”

It might be one of the reasons that Povea has gained 20 pounds since arriving in August. He likes keeping a bag of chocolate candy in his room for snacking, he says.

He also has an American food favorite, something he first tasted at the first football game last fall: barbecues or sloppy joes. “We don’t have barbecues (in Spain).”

In addition to favorite foods here, meal times are different, causing him to be hungry at times, especially at night. Instead of a noon meal at school in Spain, students have a snack about 11 a.m. and go home and eat lunch about 3 p.m. After another snack about 6 p.m., the evening meal is about 9 p.m. or even later, he says.

Povea also has a recreational playground right outside his home. “I walk one minute, I am at the beach,” he says.

Because the sea water makes the air moist, it feels cold enough for coats in the winter where he lives. Here, he has added all the extras, including hats and gloves. “For me when it’s really cold was 50 degrees,” he says. “Right now, I learned what is cold.”

Povea says American students should visit other countries as exchange students to learn more about the world.

“I would like to encourage people to do this. People in America, they think America is really good. They think it is cool enough that they can live here your whole life,” he says.

But going to another country exposes students to a different culture, language and lifestyle, he says.

His American hosts echoes the thought that his home and his home away from home offer different experiences.

“He looks out over the prairie at our house and looks out over the Mediterranean at his home,” Wilson says.


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