CORONA DEL MAR — Everybody inside the Corona del Mar High School gym rose as the National Anthem was played on Friday.
But when the Japanese foreign exchange students started to sing John Denver's "Take Me Home," the hundreds of American middle school students there fell relatively silent — some of them not really familiar with the song.
Then Katy Perry's "California Gurls" started playing on the big screen at the front of the gym, and that's when there was a noticeable stir of familiarity as some of the 400-plus students from Corona del Mar Middle School started to sing along.
Welcome to the world of foreign exchange, where cultures not only come together, but occasionally overlap. Japanese students flashed peace signs from the Vietnam era while some Corona del Mar students bowed in respect.
And the meeting of the students from the two different cultures was made possible by the Newport Beach Sister Assn. in conjunction with the Newport-Balboa Rotary Club.