High school student does a year abroad at Sumner

Mireia Pinies with Rob Powers and his daughter Lexie pose for Mireia's parents.

Mireia Pinies is a fairly typical high schooler. She enjoys classes that her friends are in, competes on the Spartan swim team and while we talk, her cell phone buzzes and rings as her friends try to get a hold of her.

What makes Mireia different from most teenagers is she decided to spend a year going to school in a completely different country – America.

Mireia is a transfer student from Spain. She said her father, a pilot, met Bonney Lake resident Rob Powers about five or six years ago. Powers is also a pilot.

On the other side of the room, Rob gave her a skeptical look and signaled to her.

“Ten? No, no,” she said, disbelieving.

“Why do you keep telling me no?” Rob asked, equally joking. “Oh that’s right, you’re 14 and you know everything.”

Teenagers will be teenagers, no matter what country they come from.

After the two pilots met, Mireia said the Powers family visited her in Spain, and then every summer since, she has vacationed in Bonney Lake.

This year she wanted something a bit different. She decided to stay the whole school year enrolled in Sumner High School.

One of the big differences she has noticed between her American school and her Spanish school is that American schools have a lot more going on than just classes.

“In Spain, the school is more a place to learn, and here in high school, you have more stuff like sports teams and the games and the dances,” she said. “We don’t have that in Spain.”

Mireia said she prefers all of the extracurricular activities American schools offer to students.

“It makes you want to go to school more,” she said. “Everybody is happier going to school.”

She also shared how the tests are easier and she is given less homework than in her school in Spain.

Some of Mireia’s favorite classes are algebra (because she is with her friends) and French. Language is a strong suit for her, as she is able to speak four languages; French, Spanish, English, and Catalan.

Catalan, Mireia explained, is a mix of French and Spanish. As an example, she said, “Hola em dic Mireia i parlo catalá,” or, “Hello, my name is Mireia and I speak Catalan.”

While Mireia is from Spain, she lives in Catalonia, an autonomous nationality in Spain. Even though Catalonia has its own government, it is ultimately governed by Spain.

Like Scotland’s recent vote on independence from the United Kingdom, Catalonia also voted to become an independent state from Spain earlier in November.

Unlike Scotland, though, more than 80 percent of the vote in Catalonia approved of being an independent nation.

However, the vote held outside the normal election process and was non-binding.

Nonetheless, Catalonian independence is important to Mireia, even though she has family living in Spain.

“I think Catalonia should be independent,” Mireia said. “A lot of money goes to Madrid instead of Barcelona, because Madrid is the capital and everything.”

Part of the reason Catalonia wants independence from Spain is over economic disparity between the two, especially after the 2008 recession, reported the British Broadcasting Corporation.

According to the Catalonian Institute of Statistics, Catalonia produced nearly 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GPD) in 2013. However, Catalonia only received 9.5 percent of the central government investment in 2015, even though Catalonia’s population makes up 16 percent of Spain’s total population.

When she graduates high school, Mireia wants to live in America and go to an American university, because the universities in Spain are much smaller.

However, she is still deciding what she wants her career to be.

“I want to study a lot of things,” she said. “I would like to be a doctor, or a teacher or a journalist.”