In celebration of its Centennial, Rotary International suggested that Rotary Clubs participate in a project with their Partner Clubs (a term introduced as part of the Centennial celebration) or Sister Clubs (referring to a Rotary Club in a different country with whom they had developed a working relationship- e.g. through Exchanges or Matching Grants).
As RC Newport-Balboa had developed a relationship with RC Okazaki South, Aichi, Japan (District 2760) as a result of the Annual Student Exchanges (initiated in 1985), an official Sister City Relationship, and Cultural Exchanges by citizens and by local businesses. As a result, the City of Newport Beach had received gifts from the City of Okazaki (e.g. statuary and trees located in Irvine Terrace Park, the Bamboo Court at the Public Library, as well as the Friendship Statue at the Main Library.)
It was the strong personal relationship of Rotarians Wendell Fish and Moe Hamill of Newport Beach with Rotarian Masao Kato of Okazaki, dedicated to building strong international relationships, that set the course for the exchanges. Benches memorializing their friendship sit side by side in Irvine Terrace Park.
Discussions progressed, taking note of the fact that the Student Exchange always included a tour of The Environmental Nature Center, and it was proposed and agreed that the joint project would be the construction of a permanent exhibit at the ENC in which visitors would be able to study/witness the metamorphosis of a butterfly.
The symbolism of the metamorphosis was attractive in each respective community and as it was also on a list of possible additions to ENC, it was agreed.