Blog November 24, 2020

The Reischauer Scholars Program: The Inspiration to Start an Investment Firm

The following reflection is a guest post written by Koki Mashita, an alumnus of the Reischauer Scholars Program.
Koki Mashita at Webb School of California; photo courtesy Koki Mashita
Koki Mashita at Webb School of California; photo courtesy Koki Mashita

For the majority of my life, I thought I understood the culture and the societal constructs of my own home, Japan. However, after partaking in the Reischauer Scholars Program in 2020, I was enlightened with an outlook of Japan from American perspectives. Prior to the program, I only learned about Japan from my parents and from other Japanese friends. I have lived in Japan, Singapore, and the United States but I never had the opportunity to study Japan with an exceptional community of educators and learners. When I was considering applying for the program, I was concerned about not being able to learn anything new due to my first-hand experience living in Japan. However, the program went into extreme detail about Japanese history and culture, such as how Japanese films and textbooks served as propaganda against the Americans to justify their soul-wrenching conflict during World War II. It challenged me to reconsider my previous view of Japan that was taught to me in a Japanese elementary school.  

My favorite part of the Reischauer Scholars Program was the students. The networking opportunities and insightful discussions with students of diverse backgrounds enabled me to understand different values and opinions.

Also, while having discussions, I felt culturally connected to other Japanese American students. As a Japanese high school student in the United States, it is extremely rare to find others like me in my classes or other activities. 

During the program, we learned about various things ranging from historical topics like the Meiji Era to contemporary topics like the challenges of the aging population in Japan and its consequences. However, when we covered the Japanese economy in our unit, I was shocked when I learned of the lack of financial literacy amongst youth in Japan. Almost all Japanese students have never learned about investing or personal finance: two critical skills for financial independence. Although I believed I understood Japanese culture and society by spending my first eight years of life in Japan, I was unaware of this lack of financial literacy amongst Japanese students. Thus, from the inspiration and help of teachers from the Reischauer Scholars Program, I founded Lallic Partners LLC. Lallic Partners LLC currently offers free fund management services and has half a million dollars in assets under management. We are currently an investment firm helping our clients grow their wealth, but our other mission is to increase financial literacy amongst students in Japan and around the world. We are taking our first steps in achieving this by hosting seminars for youth. In our seminars, investors and educators teach high school students about financial literacy and investing. I strongly believe that financial literacy for Japanese youth is critical for the future of Japan’s economy. 

The Reischauer Scholars Program was not only a place of learning but also a place where students were encouraged to extend beyond their comfort zones. I will never forget the people I have met and the lessons I have learned. 

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