No. 28 – Fun with Numbers

My grad school stats class was a crash course in every obscure spreadsheet function I’d never heard of before. PivotTables, indexing, nested formulas, transposing columns, conditional formatting…bluh. A friend of mine in the class was genuinely fascinated by the amazing application that is Microsoft Excel, and I envied her enthusiasm. Complex data crunching just isn’t my cup of tea. I can assure you I was doing the dance of joy when I submitted the final project to the professor, and then swore I’d never deal with another “megaformula” again.

On the bright side, taking that class did give me some extensive practice in commonly used spreadsheet tools. I may not be writing megaformulas anymore, but I can turn thousands of rows of raw data into some pretty darn cute charts and graphs. This skill has even come in handy in our service work on this trip.

Dusting off my old Excel skills meant I could continue some of the work we were doing with an organization in Ethiopia. Despite leaving Addis Ababa back in November, I’ve still been helping Salem’s, an organization supporting local crafters as they create and sell their wares. Crunching sales data and developing reports for them has helped inform their operational decision making for the coming year. This particular service project proved we can establish long term relationships with organizations and give them assistance long after our time in the local community has ended.

As an added bonus, our girls got a brief lesson in Excel. As you can see, they’re as excited as I was to delve into the magical world of complicated Excel functions. Maybe the topic of spreadsheets needs to make its first appearance in our homeschooling curriculum?
First introduction to Excel

About the Author

Tracey Carisch

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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