Letter from the Director

angela o'hara

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey.

John Dewey is a major inspiration of mine. A passionate advocate of experiential education and the arts, Dewey was a beacon to many during a time of great social change. Dewey viewed creativity as a means to achieve a more enlightened society and to experience more fully what it means to be human.  The 60’s and 70’s in the Americas and Europe was a turbulent era with tremendous social innovations in art practice and pedagogy. People were seeking answers to the systemic violence that was erupting everywhere across the world.  Many looked to the East and to traditional societies for knowledge and insight.  It was a time of vibrant cross-pollination in the arts.  Polymaths like John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, and Joseph Beuys imagined a sentient living world where all beings, human and non-human, lived in balance and communication with each other. Naropa University and the California Institute for Integral Studies were founded with missions to inspire conscious action and personal transformation. Amidst chaos, there was optimism and forward thinking. There was a passionate call to live one’s ideals.

However, since those times a “mal aire” (bad air) seems to have infected the art world. Too much theorizing and neurosis has led to a disenchantment of the arts.  The obsessive interrogation of artistic authority now reveals itself for what it is: a deep identity crisis and a fear of accepting responsibility for what we make in the world. Many have sold their souls for public notoreity and creative merit appears based more on social visibility rather than social transformation.

A Radical Paradigm shift

However, today there appears to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. For a start, there is a growing movement of creative people turning away from traditional educational institutions and starting their own independent schools and collectives. University corporatization, overpopulated classrooms, and an increase in “distance learning” is driving the experience out of education and mounting student debt is leading to an generation of servitude.  This is even more tragically the case for those who depend not only on government arts councils and institutions for their livelihoods but for their creative validation, as well. 

Today, with the increased mobility and accessibility of information and technology, there are more opportunities than ever for us to become curators of our own lives.  In our new knowledge community, creativity and innovation are the most sought after resources and those that can think outside the box are becoming the new leaders of our society. Ironically, the innovators we most valorate in society are not the ones that we’re educating in our school system but the people who are challenging the status quo. They take risks and persevere with their visions. This emerging new world demands that we must become more proactive and seek new contexts and applications for our work. We must become more flexible and expansive in our thinking. In the future, it will be the creatives who become again the pathfinders of our society.

Re-enchanting Education

One thing I have learned from my years traveling to Peru and researching indigenous knowledge is that the human imagination is truly boundless in its potential.  With a commitment towards healing and an intention to persevere, the mind can be liberated to imagine what at first might have seemed impossible. Here in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, we are creating a space for free imagination.  We are also building a creative community where you can connect and collaborate no matter whether you are an artist, an architect, a scientist or an entrepreneur. Creativity knows no disciplinary boundaries. 

At Arkana, it is our mission to re-enchant education.  Through our deep immersion programmes and our highly unique methodologies, you can connect again to the authentic creative vision that is your birthright. Indigenous models of education teach us that we enter this world with all the creativity and knowledge we will ever need we need.  All that is required is the right environment for it to germinate again.

Why Travel to Peru?

Why come to Peru? Why can’t we do this in our own back yard? Because travel is an important part of the creative process. Travel allows the mind to liberate itself from narrow space of our daily operations.  Sometimes we need to seek outwards to discover what is already within. Travel also promotes an open mind and offers valuable opportunities for intercultural exchange that lead to increased well being, creativity, and empathy. The programming we’re developing at Arkana will literally transform your life. Every facet of our mission is focused on personal creative growth on multiple levels. When you complete one of our programmes at Arkana, you will leave Peru a more aware and energized person with greater focus and vision. You will not only feel more free to express your natural born creativity but have the tools to put it into practice in the future, impacting not only your life but the life on this planet as a whole.

Come to Peru and be a part of this revolutionary project!


Angela O’Hara