From March 2019-March 2020, I lived and worked in Armenia as an English Teacher. I came to Armenia with little knowledge of the language or understanding of the culture and was welcomed completely and treated with kindness by everyone I met.
In late 2020, Armenia was attacked by the neighboring country Azerbaijan, with the region of Artsakh and all of Armenia greatly affected. Today, refugees from Artsakh still need support.
The Armenia Zine for Artsakh is a project to give back to a country that became a home and continues to provide endless inspiration. We’re hoping to collect 15-20 stories and photos to include about Armenia. All work will be credited, but as this is a fundraiser all work is on a volunteer basis. Submissions are open to anyone with a connection to Armenia.
The goal of this project is to create an online and print independently published magazine (Zine) about Armenia, sharing special stories about the country and kindness of its people. Armenia is a small country that many Americans couldn’t point out on a map. This project aims to raise awareness of Armenia as a country and Armenian culture, and raise money for mutual aid funds for Artsakh refugees.
Please continue reading for submission guidelines and sample essays.
Armenia Zine for Artsakh Submission Guidelines and Samples
Thank so much for you interest in contributing to the Armenia Zine for Artsakh. We can’t wait to review your art and stories.
The Armenia Zine for Artsakh is a project to give to a country that became a home and continues to provide endless inspiration. We’re hoping to collect 15-20 stories and photos to include about Armenia. All work will be credited, but as this is a fundraiser all work is on a volunteer basis. Submissions are open to anyone with a connection to Armenia. I especially encourage you to submit if you are an Armenian English student.
These stories should showcase Armenian culture and ultimately inspire Americans to care about and invest in this small but incredibly special country. We are looking for photos accompanied by captions/ essays ranging in length from 50-1000 words.
- Each submission at the very least should include one photo and 50 words but may contain up to 6 photos and 1000 words.
- Please make the connection between the photo and accompanying essay reasonably clear.
- Images should be high quality, but phone photos are perfectly acceptable.
- Please include your name and connection to Armenia in each submission.
- You may submit multiple pieces, but please send a separate email for each piece for them to be considered separately.
- I am not looking for a summary of your time in Armenia or lessons learned, I am looking for smaller scale stories that showcase something special about Armenia or your relationship to the country on a personal level.
- Submissions can be previously published on your personal blog or social media.
- This is not affiliated with the US Peace Corps or government; If you are an RPCV, we are looking for pieces that focus on Armenia and not your service.
- While creative use of Armenian language is encouraged, all stories should be able to be understood by someone with no knowledge of Armenian language (the goal of this Zine is to encourage Americans to donate and inspire them to invest in Armenia).
- While this is run by an Armenia RPCV, submissions are not limited to Armenia RPCVs. Anyone with a connection to Armenia can submit work.
- We will not publish work with identifying information of minors. First names are fine especially if they are common, as long as they are not paired with faces or any specific identifying information.
- If you have an idea that doesn’t fit these guidelines, but you still think has a place in this zine, email your pitch before submitting!
- A soft deadline for submissions is February 27th. If you would still like to contribute, but can’t make this deadline, email and we can work something out.
The goal end product of Armenia Zine for Artsakh is an independently published print and/or online Zine. Profits from sales will be donated to mutual aid funds providing services and relief to Artsakh refugees and Armenians affected by the events of 2020.
As of now, this is an independent project, and I am still feeling out interest. I would ideally hope to publish in May or June of 2021.
While I hope to include as much of your work as possible, I can only accept work that fits within these guidelines and showcases the best of Armenia in a positive light. All edits will be run by the original author, and you retain all rights to your work.
To submit work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your image attached as a jpg file and accompanying text in a separate file. Please include your name, and a title for your piece. Please double check to make sure you’ve sent to the correct email.
Please see sample pieces below before submitting.
* I am also potentially looking for co-editors and design input. If you’re interested in editing with me and direct involvement in this project, email me at email@example.com with a writing/photography sample, relevant editing/design experience, what role or roles interest you, and why you care about this project. This is a volunteer position, and please only apply if this is a project you are genuinely invested in. No Armenia connection necessary to volunteer as a design or copy editor.
Continue reading for sample essays/photos.
(Use these as a reference point but please don’t feel limited to this style!)
Example One: Short Form
Title: Քանի լեզու գիտես, էդքան մարդ ես։ How many languages you know is how many people you are.
Author: Matt Todd
Walk through the bustling GUM market in central Yerevan and you will hear sellers bargaining with tourists through broken English or Russian with taglines such as “very tasty” being very popular. You will see people smiling, laughing, and often showing pride in their products – ranging from freshly butchered pigs, pickles of every type, sun-dried apricots from Ararat, stacks of cured meats, piles of fresh green herbs, and these guys in the picture. Honestly, I am not sure what the name of them is, but I do know they are made with dried fruits on the outside and stuffed with a variety of crushed nuts. The color and shape of them drew my eye on my morning walk through the market and I stooped down to take a picture. Naturally, the owner of the stall made a joke that the picture would cost me 1000 dram. Instead, I offered in Armenian – much to his surprise – to buy two pieces of the item instead. The man was happy to meet a foreigner who spoke Armenian and, much to my embarrassment, brought me to his friends and commanded me to speak Armenian with them. I obliged and was then sent away with two pieces of the snack free of charge and a smile on my face.
Example Two: Short Form
Title: Purple Mountain Magic
Author: Madeline Marquardt
I used to run in the midsummer heat as the sun slipped finally behind the mountain, watching dust float in the air and catch the light. “Oor es gnoom?” / “Where are you going?” an older woman would call after me and I would reply “I’m running!”, which doesn’t really answer the question.
“But what from?” She asked me one day, and I didn’t know how to answer but I laughed so hard I stopped running. She caught up to me and I agreed to a cup of coffee and apricots on her porch and explained in slow and broken detail that I work in the school, and when it starts to cool down, I run to the church at night because I can see the mountains turn purple.
She nodded and wished me luck in my search for purple mountains, and from then on, I always took a coffee break around mile two.
Example Three: Long Form
Title: Burnt Red Hills
Author: Madeline Marquardt
It didn’t dip below 100 degrees for two weeks straight that summer, and I don’t even like running. The cramp that builds under my ribs, the pins in my knee, sucking down dry air— I don’t like any of it. I don’t like the heat either.
I had thought that Armenia, a mountainous country bordered Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey, would be cold. I was wrong.
It was hot. That summer, my English clubs started early in the morning, at a different time every day. Time in the desert seems to be more of an abstract concept, as if clocks have melted in the heat. Within the first few minutes of my club, the small of my back would be damp. Chalk would scrape down the blackboard and I could feel salt on my face. I had wanted to have English clubs later in the day too, but no students would come. Their parents wouldn’t let them outside in that kind of sun.
English club would end an hour before lunch, and my students would leave the school immediately after, still shy of me. I would walk back to the green door I called home and have coffee, soortj, and watermelon with my host mom and sister. I’d struggle through small talk in basic, clunky Armenian.
“Ashakertnere vonces ein?” My host mom would ask every day, like clockwork. How were the students?
“Narank lav e,” I would say. They is good.
“It’s very hot, yes?” She would add.
“Ayo, shat.” Yes, very.
“We’ll stay inside then, and relax.”
I would nod. It was too hot to be out in the daytime. In town, men stood in the shade smoking cigarettes, staring at me as I passed. I am strange, and blond, and unmistakably foreign. I flushed red like a sunburn every time I spoke fumbling Armenian in my tin foil accent. Then there were the sandflies, and scorpions, and I kept hearing the phrase “toonavor odzer” which I quickly worked out to be venomous snakes.
Inside and relax was fine, with hour after careful hour of lesson plans, or making posters, or reading in the shade. I would practice writing in the looping Armenian script while my host sister patiently coached me on my grammar. Then the light would start to fade and the heat with it, and I would be restless and desperate to move.
I would gather my hair back, slide into long and loose black pants and a tank top, and brave my strange new home alone.
I ran past blocky Soviet apartments and groups of kids playing volleyball, watching me shyly. I pushed up into the foothills of the Gegham Mountains where time melted in the heat, toward the red stone church that claims it was once a Silk Road outpost. Dust swirled up around me like gold and bright desert songbirds with spots and long feathers darted from tree to tree. The distinct outline of Mount Ararat and its snowy slopes would shimmer in the heat like a mirage, commanding the entire valley below.
Every night, the heat broke like a fever while my feet drummed at dusty roads, winding through apricot groves with the sky lit pale peach pink. I would drink that time, feeling strong and capable of something, even if it was just a run. In that liquid gold hour, I wasn’t the American, or the foreign English teacher, or the girl with the ugly accent. I was just me; I was nothing. I was a speck on the burnt red hills.
I ran almost every night that summer despite the heat and the men who started. Little by little, kamats kamats, my Armenian evolved into something functional, and speaking it became less intimidating. My English clubs grew into something I was intensely proud of, and my students started staying after to talk with me and practice English. The group of kids I passed on my runs started stopping me to play volleyball with them, and every now and then one of them would run alongside me for a while. The heat faded and autumn came and the big, scary desert with its snakes and scorpions became a home. Still, like clockwork, I would run the hour before sunset and drink time.