Setting it to "Cruz" Control in Pennsylvania
Exchange student from Mexico poses on Pennsylvania porch with his host brothers and football teammates

Fall flies by with football, farming, and family (#23 Cruz from Mexico)

We began our journey on August 3, 2022, just in time for Cruz to begin the football season with his new siblings. Football season has been exciting, hard work, and at times even emotionally and mentally tough. Our team had an undefeated regular season, and we headed into playoffs with a 10-0 record. We have since become the WestPac Champs, won the Appalachian Bowl, and the first round of district playoffs. The District Championship is this Friday. 

This season has been nothing short of hard work from all of the team members, including Cruz and his host brothers. This has not only brought us closer but has helped us learn how to lean on each other and work out any misunderstandings that may occur, on and off the field. This week will be faced with a lot of dedication from the family, as we prepare for the biggest game yet. 

Part of becoming a team is getting to know the teammates and the families. Every Thursday before a home game, we would have a team dinner where all teammates and families were invited and came together to prepare a large feast that we would enjoy together. At these dinners, Cruz had a great time experiencing some of everyone's favorite American foods. 

Before Cruz jumped into football, we had just enough time for our first adventure as a family: a camping trip. There, we would introduce our extended family (and four other families with whom we're very close) to our newest family member. This was only the beginning of what has turned into many adventures that Cruz has experienced along with the entire family.

The camping weekend consisted of swimming pools and water activities, sports activities, hanging out by the fire, and eating lots of food. All of the families brought some of their favorite camping foods for Cruz to try right from the start. There was lots of eating. This was just the beginning; there have already been three more camping trips!

On our second camping trip, we all got to meet Leni, who is also a PAX exchange student. This camping trip was very relaxed, giving us a lot of opportunities and time to get to know each other. We took Cruz and Leni on their first trip to Walmart, swam in a pool that was totally empty for our own use, and drove a remote control boat on a lake. 

Finally, during our last camping trip, we went to visit Ohiopyle and the Laurel Caverns. We also went trick or treating at the campground, where Cruz dressed up as the pink bunny from A Christmas Story

The New Centerville Farmer's and Thresherman's Jubilee was right after Labor Day. As a family that is part of the volunteer fire company that throws the jubilee, not only did the kids enjoy the activities, but they did a lot of volunteer work. Cruz, Seth, and Cody learned how to make apple cider using an old apple cider mill run by a steam engine. They also served chicken to members of the community and worked in the fireman’s stand where they took food orders from members of the community.

Cruz, Seth, and Cody learned how to make apple cider using an old apple cider mill run by a steam engine.

Cruz was asked to attend a Steelers game with another PAX exchange student, Davide from Italy. They began their trip with a tour of the stadium. Sadly, the Steelers lost that day. Cruz saw Kenny Pickett after the game driving by. 

As part of the homecoming experience, Cruz got to experience being a head coach of a powder puff football team, which starts Rockwood's homecoming events. In addition, because Rockwood participates in the co-op with Berlin for football, Cruz got to play in the homecoming football game held at Berlin. His name was hung proudly, along with his siblings Cody and Seth, on a football that was strung through the town of Berlin as part of their homecoming festivities. 

Our family owns a small beef farm, where in addition to raising beef, we raise chickens and pigs and grow potatoes and corn. Cruz arrived just in time to help with picking the sweet corn and digging, grading, and weighing potatoes. He has blended right in with the family and helps with the nightly feeding of the animals. This is not only a family business but a family tradition as well, that now become a part of his American family experience. 

The fall season is wrapping up. The boys will play in their District V Championship football game soon, and that weekend will continue with their first semi-formal dance. Wish them luck!

—The Kimmel family (PA), host family of Cruz (Mexico)