“My purpose is to get the journal printed, and to educate and advance the children of Armenia,” Tonoyan says. “We want to have Armenian culture and the culture of the world presented to children here. For this reason, much work is translated for Aghpyur. Times are difficult, but there are still many talented children who deserve to have their work presented to others, so they don’t lose hope. They need to know they are not alone, and that others are with them in these difficult times.”
Aghpyur is currently funded by the Armenian government. Due to ongoing constraints, the journal is often short of money to print. Tonoyan has long stressed the importance of setting up a separate fund dedicated to ensuring timely publication of the monthly magazine. Citing Aghpyur’s important role in classrooms and homes, he stated that, from a cultural standpoint, Armenia cannot afford to lose this vital link with its children. That fund is now in place.
In addition to seeking monetary donations, the editor encourages contributions of writing and artwork from Armenian children living in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. An author with children of his own, Tonoyan says the magazine provides an excellent opportunity for young people to express themselves and to get to know one another.
“Our main purpose is to know the fatherland,” Tonoyan adds. “This isn’t a new or surprising goal, but we must recognize and know our literature and culture. We need to know the geography of our souls, which now pulls not only from Armenia, but also from America, Greece, Iran, Europe, and from God.
“We aren’t giving in to new styles or methods, or turning our attention to current fads,” Tonoyan continues. “We don’t do what the ‘market’ asks for, because today, in Armenia, culture, or the ‘cultural market,’ is at a very low level. If we acted according to this market, we wouldn’t be taking care of the needs of the children of Armenia. The needs of the people must be met, and these needs are often different, or even opposite, of the market. Since immigration is a major problem for Armenia today, we need even more to return to the source, or aghpyur. In this way, we direct Armenian culture to the fatherland.”
Aghpyur Children’s Journal is one of the oldest journals in Armenia. In 2003 it celebrated its eightieth year of publication. Among its founders was the great poet, Yeghishe Charents. The mentality of Charents was the road of literature, of culture. According to Tonoyan, Aghpyur’s current financial difficulties show that the government has strayed from that mentality. Instead it has embarked on another, unclear journey. Aghasi Khanjian, a government leader of the 1930s, followed the path of Charents. He was later killed by the Soviets. He had written much about Charents, calling him a true son of Armenia. The mentality of Charents and Khanjian is now absent in the Armenian government, Tonoyan says, and this has led to the lack of funding for Aghpyur. “Aghpyur truly works towards the needs and nourishment of Armenian children. The government must think about whom they are serving, not only in words, but also in deeds.”
Over the years, Aghpyur has had several notable editors, including Berj Zeituntsyan, Anahit Sahinyan, and Saghatel Harutyunyan. As the magazine’s current editor, Tonoyan continues to emphasize the importance of traditional Armenian culture, while showcasing the talents of children. “Armenian children should be nourished not only by food, but by art and the Armenian language.”
Adding the work of Diaspora children to the pages of Aghpyur would create a tie between Armenian children around the world. Everyone would benefit. Children in the Diaspora would gain knowledge about life in Armenia, and could later visit their homeland not as tourists, but as someone who is going home. Says Tonoyan, “I would like to see the journal become a bridge between the children of Armenia and the children of the Diaspora.”
Thanks to the generosity of Detroit philanthropists Sarkis and Seta Demirchian, Aghpyur is now being designed by computer. Their donation of computers, a scanner, and two printers has improved the publication and made production easier — a key point, considering the wide variety of contributions received by the magazine.
For information on how to transfer money to Aghpyur’s publication account, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the magazine or to learn about submitting material for publication, contact editor Tadevos Tonoyan at email@example.com.
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