You can try Googling your model of joy stick along with "Python" or "pygame" and that might help figure out a bit. But yes, if you want to write a program, you'll have to learn Python (or see if you can give an undergrad credits for helping you or something). To learn Python, you can use any of the free tutorials on the web which are available as traditional written tuts, or even Youtube videos. This
is my personal favorite tutorial, and I hate using Youtube videos, because I can't skim or skip as easily. But it's all up to the individual.