Conquering Microsoft Excel and Other Tales from Brown Square Health Center

Now that you have been at your host sites for a while, how are things going? What have been some challenges? Successes? Is this whole VISTA thing what you thought it would be?

I cannot believe I have been at Brown Square for over 2 months now, it still feels like I just started!  The main challenge I have encountered so far is emerging myself into the new cultures I am surrounded with on a daily basis. I find myself learning new things on a daily basis and I cannot shake the feeling that there is still so much for me to learn, I am not sure if that feeling will ever leave. Even though that has been a challenge to me, it has proved to be worth the effort. I mean who else gets to eat delicious home-cooked Burmese and Somali food as part of their job and go on boat cruises with ESL students! Another major challenge has been mastering  using Microsoft Excel… why are there so many abbreviations?!!! and who decided that adding a $ to your equations enables you to copy and paste? However, I persevered and produced a 10 page Excel spreadsheet (complete with pie graph) which maps out the weekly tasks of our interpreters at Brown Square.

As for successes, I was able to run my first successful Women’s Health Promotion Training Session! It was so much fun, the women are amazing and their commitment to the project amazes me on a daily basis. I have also successful added one of the women in the group as a co-facilitator for the next meeting. This is in the hopes of transitioning the program into self- sustainability after I leave.  My Excel spreadsheet has been used to show refugee health care efficiency and is in the works of being used to see where refugee care at Brown Square can transition more smoothly and be more efficient.

hmmm is this what a thought what a VISTA would be like? In a word…. NO! I never expected to be doing as much creative thinking and implementation of ideas as I have. I have also never mapped out a monthly budget ( now conveniently  located in an Excel spreadsheet). Although, there have been some challenges I love my job and being a VISTA and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year brings!



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