Audio Recording of Interview
Joshua Karnelius talks about his early home life and foster parents who encouraged him to learn for pleasure, as well as his journey of faith and of learning about racial injustice. He details the journey of receiving his GED degree and starting college, specifically discussing those who motivated him as well as his experiences of adjusting to American educational systems and racial discrimination.
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Narrator: Joshua Karnelius
Location: Princeton, NJ
Summary: Joshua Karnelius talks about his early home life and foster parents who encouraged him to learn for pleasure, as well as his journey of faith and of learning about racial injustice. He details the journey of receiving his GED degree and starting college, specifically discussing those who motivated him as well as his experiences of adjusting to American educational systems and racial discrimination.
Topics: Education, family, detention center, faith, home life, race, cultural adjustment, discrimination, historical context, religion, connection, advice for change
Section 1: (00:00-11:11)
Education, family - Talks about his foster mother and of how she helped him study and made him read books for pleasure. Really motivated him when he did not think he could get his GED. Talks about how he has dominant women in his life who have pushed him to succeed (his mother and foster mom).
Education, detention center, faith- Goal was to take one of the GED tests before going to US, but detention center cancelled his bail, and he had to stay there for 3 months before coming to US. Describes one book he had in the detention center, one that gave a scientific approach to Christianity. Talks about how there is no atheism in Pakistan and did not feel comfortable asking others about it, but this book helped him answer lifelong questions.
Section 2: (11:12-24:33)
Education, home life, language - Mentioned that sometimes the abundance of languages (English, Punjabi, Urdu) got jumbled in his head. Talks about the guilt of living with his foster family and discusses making his own food. Discusses GED prep, learning about American presidents, American history, and slavery. Interested in the flexibility of US as a nation and about the growing demographic of immigrants in the US.
Education, race - Describes a college class where they talked about slavery and the role of the white man. His experiences with white people included missionaries and his foster parents, and he thought they were kind people, felt uncomfortable. Thought back to a prior situation and decided not to be uncomfortable. Believes that humans are the same and all share love, does not want history to repeat. Need to educate people and include everyone.
Section 3: (24:34-37:16)
Education, cultural adjustment, discrimination, race, faith, childhood - Talks about his Black GED teacher and how she educated him about discrimination because of race, which he had been unfamiliar with before. When previously thinking about discrimination, he thought about religion. Also describes his fear of a white supremecist protest in Princeton and how he was told not to go outside. Mentions a childhood experience of how he started saying the Apostle’s Creed when he was afraid.
Discrimination, race, education - Ended up going to the protest, only to discover an anti-protest and felt good. Researched white supremacists after and at his college, officers came from all over to talk about hate groups.
Section 4: (37:17-55:15)
Historical context, religion - Describes being asked by a co-worker, what are you? Emphasizes that there are not only Muslims in Pakistan. Mentions Iqbal Masih, a Christian child put into child labor who later fought against the practice. Now, an award from the UN named after Iqbal. Talks about how Pakistan has created a video where those affected by the Easter bombing received the chance to speak. Hopes that Pakistan will continue to evolve and describes it as part of Asia and different from Middle East.
Education, connection - Describes how his preparation before entering GED classes in the US made him feel smart in the classroom for the first time. Mentions talking with a man from his class who had been in prison, and they connected over this experience.
Education, family, race, discrimination- Received his GED in three months, describes how his teacher pushed him to take the test, though he was afraid. The only man at the graduation ceremony. Talks about a woman in his class and how she had abusive foster parents and had a very different experience from his. In class, they discuss interracial marriage, and he describes how his white sister-in-law’s parents cut her off after she married a Pakistani man.
Section 5: (55:18-1:19:43)
Education - Received an award because he received GED in 3 month record time. Was disappointed that for his story, they said he was someone who works with the church, instead of saying he was a refugee who had been in a detention center. Describes his feelings of elation at graduation. Explains how amazing it felt to hold his diploma, his proof of being educated.
Education, employment- Explains that he lacked confidence in his ability to educate himself and thought he did not have time. Re-evaluated this stance once he started working and realized education allows for mobility within work, even within the same company. Describes his experience working from the bottom to becoming a travel agent and that as he learns sociology, he thinks of everything in terms of social structure.
Education, detention center, cultural adjustment- His time in the detention center motivated him to get the GED, gave a sense of urgency. Talks about the difficult transition to college and the privileged attitude of some of his classmates. Also talks about the differences in the American education system, the good and the bad. Discusses how the professor is not in an authoritarian position, unlike in Pakistan, and how he can express his thoughts freely.
Section 6: (1:19:44-1:29:44)
Education, advice for change - Talks about the impact of education and how he has gained more confidence. Emphasizes the need for more support in place for GED students entering college.
Education, family - Education gave him a purpose. Says that everyone needs someone to have confidence in them. For him, it was his foster mother who supported him through.