Crystal Grant Memorial
  • Crystal C. Yan (严晨)

    Hi, I'm Crystal. I'm a marketing strategist and designer who works at the intersection of emerging markets, technology startups, and design. I believe that in order to better address pressing systemic issues in the world, one must try to understand the people involved and where they come from.

    Previously, I worked at ACCION, Innovation Works, Standard Chartered Bank, StackMob and Infosys Limited in New York City, Beijing, Shanghai, San Francisco and Bangalore and did ethnographic field research in Delhi, Dakar, Buenos Aires and Phnom Penh.

    I graduated from Amherst College with a BA in Economics, where I also studied international development policy and urban planning.


Foraging Forward

I’ve been holding off on writing this post because I can’t quite believe that I’ve graduated. It feels like a chapter of my life has closed and I am not quite sure how long it will be until I return to the tiny rural New England town that I called home for the past four years. But … Continue reading

Railway in Ahmedabad

Understanding Knowledge

Originally published in the Amherst Magazine, Spring 2014. “Sula nexee,” I pleaded, as I reached for the broom. “No, no, no, no, no, teranga,” she replied. Teranga is Wolof for hospitality, so I sat down, defeated. Academic theory did not prepare me for this moment. I had been sitting on the bed doing my reading … Continue reading


Reconnecting and Recharging

It’s been so weird being back at Amherst for senior year, seeing some people for the first time after a year away. Still, it’s been great to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. LEARNING IN THE CLASSROOM: Microeconomics of Development: This course was a seminar of 10 students and I was always self-conscious … Continue reading

Urubamba Valley at 5am

A “Deeply Unsettling” Semester

The title of this post comes from a quote from one of our professors. We were sitting around on a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Argentina and discussing reverse culture shock, what it would be like to go back to the US and explain our time abroad to friends and family who would expect … Continue reading

View of the city, from the rooftop of Hotel Bauen

Buenos Aires: Community and Leisure in Porteno Life

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I was walking around downtown past shiny retail stores and crossing the street with crosswalks. It reminded me of Manhattan. I wondered, with all the familiarity of skyscraper-tall malls symbolizing a consumption culture and without the chaos of street markets and informal forms of transportation, would Argentina would … Continue reading


Da Kar Rapide: Informal Transport and “Being On Time”

The informality of the transportation systems in Dakar and Delhi are examples of the effect that informality and informal structures have on perceptions of societal norms. During a site visit to Patte d’Oie, a station for informal taxis in Dakar, we learned through interviews with the clandestine taxi drivers (with the help of a translator) … Continue reading

So many beaches in Dakar

Dakar and Keur Samba Kala: Privilege, Tourism, and Nok Bokk

The first thing I noticed about Dakar was the air. I could smell the sea in the air, and as cheesy as this may sound, it smelled like possibility. I moved into my homestay the second day in Senegal. My host mom is 60, and her surname is Kebe, so my Senegalese name is Mariame Kebe. … Continue reading

Art project at One Billion Rising protest in Delhi

Delhi and Ahmedabad: Displacement, Development, Social Silos, and Feminism

The city of Delhi is different for everyone, it all depends on how you view it and who you are. One night a classmate and I sat together, and talked about how we were worried we had blinded ourselves to structural inequity, extreme poverty, oppression of minorities, problems we knew existed but didn’t want to see. We worried … Continue reading


Beijing State of Mind

These past few months have gone by too quickly. I’ve had many humbling conversations that have challenged my beliefs, and many experiences that defied my expectations of myself. I love Beijing, and here are a few things I’ve learned this semester: 1. The funny thing about being in your 20s and in a big city is that the … Continue reading

Pudong skyline, view from the Bund

A Geek Among Banksters: My Month at Standard Chartered Bank Shanghai

This August, I interned with the Digital Ventures Group at Standard Chartered Bank China’s Shanghai office. My work included doing usability testing and user experience research for an iPad app, being a part of product development meetings, creating product demo content for the English version of the website, conducting research for location-based marketing for merchant … Continue reading