Vidnyanvahini tries to instill and nurture a scientific thought process among young school children. In addition, the organization provides a life-enriching opportunity for those Marathi-speaking individuals living abroad who are seeking personal development through service in Maharashtra, India. Vidnyanvahini's externship program began in 1996 in cooperation with India Development Service, Chicago. It was initially formulated with, though not restricted to, the second generation NRIs (non-resident Indians) in mind. Typically, a college student with family background rooted in Maharashtra spends three to twelve weeks with Vidnyanvahini's MSL as an external volunteer. At least one week includes an out-of-district trip with the MSL (Mobile Science Lab). At the conclusion of the externship, the volunteer receives a certificate in acknowledgment of his/her participation in the program. While every effort is made to cater to an extern's particular needs and circumstances, certain guidelines have been evolved through experience as follows:
- Minimum ability to converse in Marathi is essential.
- Rationale: All schools Vidnyanvahini visits use Marathi as the medium of instruction. Even teachers in rural schools have only a working knowledge of English. So in order to effectively participate, the extern must be somewhat fluent in Marathi.
- The extern's educational background should include two to three years of high school science and some college experience in an allied field.
- Rationale: The MSL program involves teaching high school students concepts of science and helping them perform experiments.
- The extern makes personal arrangements for residence in Pune during the period of externship.
Note: If a request is made, Vidnyanvahini tries to help identify a suitable facility at a modest cost.
Over the years, Vidnyanvahini has had several student externs.
Seema Limaye, as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, did a two month
externship at Vidnyanvahini in January-February of 1997.
Mr. Vithal Bhave (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) from San Jose, CA, took leave of absence from his Information Technology job and did a three week externship in July-August of 1998.
Nita Patil, student of University of San Diego, CA, joined Vidnyanvahini's MSL activity as an extern for 8 weeks during August through October of 1999.
Ankita Deshpande from Chicago, Thilo Elsaesser from Germany were externs in the year 2000-2001 and Kaustubh Deshpande from Edison, NJ. in 2011
They all felt that they had stimulating and enriching experiences as externs, as can be read in their reports.
The rural school children who benefited from these externships felt that they had a very fruitful interaction with the externs.