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Association Chartered June 14, 1946

September 2022

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From the President

I hope all of you had a good summer, even with so few really “summery” days this year (at least in Menlo Park, where I live). We on the PBK Board thank you for being a member of our Northern California Association. 

Our First Vice-President for Programs, O’Neil Dillon, and his committee, have planned the almost-monthly meet-ups that PBKNCA has offered throughout the years. If you want to attend one of these events, please check our website,, for information about them and directions for signing up. Payments for events can be made securely on the website, or by check with the coupon available there. 

Our “Young Professionals” section leaders, Joy Wang and Whitney Roeder, have arranged several exciting events for those 40 and under, including a gathering in San Francisco attended by more than 40 participants and two Zoom events sponsored with National on careers and networking. 

In May 2023, which seems a long time from now but which will be here before we know it, we’ll confer scholarships on worthy graduate students from some of our Association’s campus chapters. The hard work of Second Vice President for Scholarships, Joanne Sandstrom, and her committee (and your monetary contributions – THANK YOU!) makes this possible. My thanks to all members who have given generously to our scholarship program during the past year and before. Please keep it up!

We encourage nominations for our Teaching Excellence awards for faculty members at the universities in our Association area that have PBK chapters. If you were motivated, impressed, or enthralled by teachers at any of those schools, please nominate them for a Teaching Excellence award, using the form available at Teaching Excellence Chair Melissa Stevens awaits your input. Former recipients are often featured speakers at our Asilomar conference. 

Speaking of Asilomar, please consider attending our annual Presidents’ Weekend symposium, to be held this coming February 17-20, 2023 at Asilomar (Pacific Grove). We will enjoy hearing speakers on a variety of subject, from literature to science and everything in between, have fascinating conversations, and marvel at nature’s magnificence as we wander the retreat grounds. Asilomar Chair Deirdre Frontczak will be delighted to receive your reservation. All proceeds from the symposium go to our award programs. More information can be found on our website or within this Newsletter.

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Book Club



Teaching Excellence

Upcoming Events          

Young Professionals      

Upcoming Events

Currently, the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association requires proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 for attendance at any and all events.  This may change as the Covid situation changes. Watch the website and your email. Full vaccination is defined as completion of the two-dose regimen of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, plus boosters, administered two weeks or more in advance of the event. A well-fitting N95, KF94 or KN95 mask for all indoor activities (except while eating) is also required. Cloth masks, bandanas, or neck gaiters are not acceptableFace masks must completely cover the nose and mouth.  A well fitted mask has no gaps between the face and mask, such as above the nose or at the sides.

Full event information, and means of credit card payment or a form with which to send a check are available on our website  If you want to register for an event but don’t have Internet access, please contact O’Neil at

If you won’t be able to make an event, contact O’Neil Dillon at ASAP, or if it is the day of the event call him at 510-207-8761, as there may be others on the waiting list who will then be able to take your place.

No-shows do NOT receive a ref­­­und!

San Francisco Chinatown Family Associations, Tongs and Gangs.  

September 17, 2022; 10 AM, 1.5 to 2 hrs; Registration $35. Full - waitlist available

This will be a private, docent-led walking tour focusing on the cultural role and functions of Family associations, Tongs, and Gangs in the life of the San Francisco Chinese community.

Pulled and pushed from the far southeast part of China from 1849 onward, young Chinese men went to the gold fields only to find that discrimination forced them to either work as laborers or return to San Francisco, but not to look for gold. Settling in San Francisco's Chinatown many joined the Family Associations, Tongs, and Gangs that largely controlled the neighborhood. Walk along Chinatown’s streets and alleys and dive into the colorful and sometimes violent history of this period.

Note: Content may not be appropriate for children under 14 years of age.

Parking available at the Portsmouth Square Garage.  Meet across from the elevators in Portsmouth Square above the garage, which is between Washington, Kearney and Grant streets.

Tour Leader O’Neil Dillon

The backstory of Chinatown - 

With whispered stories of seedy opium dens, dark alleys, and daggers, from the 1850s to the 1930s the Tong Wars seized the American imagination. One of the most notorious gang fights occurred in 1879, when 50 men from two tongs fought in the small alley of Waverly Place over ownership rights to a Chinese slave girl, leaving four men dead.

Tongs originated in Chinese immigrant communities in the United States in the early 1800s as associations that provided legal, monetary, and protective services to a wave of laborers excluded from mainstream American institutions.

Because of the Exclusion Acts, it was difficult to immigrate here, men were not allowed to bring their families, resulting in a “bachelor society,” which suddenly made a market for prostitution. There was also opium, so there were drugs as well. They needed the underworld because the activities were illegal.

Then, in the mid-60s when immigration was loosened, many youths came from Hong Kong and Macao, and these new immigrants enrolled in high schools like Galileo in San Francisco. Other teens teased, made fun of, and beat up the foreign-borns. The local teens didn’t realize that many of the new immigrants were gang members in China. So suddenly, the foreign-borns started banding together to defend themselves. Soon, it went beyond that.

Their type of retaliation wasn’t, “I remember when you beat me up, so I’m going to beat you up now.” They were much more violent and brutal. When they got their revenge, they didn’t just let it go with one beating, they did it again and again. And then the Tongs, who were looking for “soldiers” to control the activities in Chinatown started to recruit them.

The ’70s were full of much more brazen violence. There was an outright war going on between the Joe Boys and the other Tongs, with numerous gangs teaming up against the Joe Boys who had about 150 members and were probably a lot more violent than other gangs at the time. Basically, the Wah Ching, the Hop Sing Boys, and the Suey Sing Tong were going up against the Joe Boys.

References: Interview with Bill Lee, former gang member, 

For Young Professionals (40 and Under)

PBKNCA YP Key Connections –- “Let’s Chat About Your Career Journey”

October 16, 2022 3 PM to 4:10 PM Zoom. Free

Join us to network with experienced PBKNCA professionals! 

Calling all Young Professionals,

This year, Phi Beta Kappa National will hold the annual virtual Key Connections event in September to serve as a kick-off for many regional Key Connections events.

Following National's event, PBKNCA YP will host our annual virtual Key Connections event, "Let's Chat About Your Career Journey", on October 16th, 3 p.m. PDT. The theme of this event will be NETWORKING

The virtual event will be held over Zoom and the duration of the event will be 1 hour and 10 minutes. There will be two guest speakers, Ka-Tye Koo and Dr. Tina Etcheverry. 

They will speak for the first 40 minutes of the event to share their personal and professional stories, as well as their career advice. During the last 20 minutes of the event, each attendee will be assigned to a breakout room based on their specified professional interests.

Tour Leaders – Joy Wang and Whitney Roeder

California State Railroad Museum - Private guided tour

October 22. 2022. 10 AM at 111 “I” Street, Sacramento. Registration $20