This week I have been actively engaged in a variety of events as I celebrate the end of the school year here in North Macedonia, which is located just north of Greece, in Central Europe. Just this week I am attending 4 graduation ceremonies at my school as well as a junior prom.

Next week, I will make my way to Beijing and prepare for one of the most exciting times of my professional life with the opportunity to be part of a new venture as House of Knowledge strengthens their trilingual education program.

I started my international career as an Executive Director of a large international school in Beijing. Those experiences shaped my beliefs and values as an educator. Since my first visit to Beijing back in 2010, I have always felt a strong connection to China and Beijing in particular.

Since then, I have worked in school leadership roles in Hangzhou and now in North Macedonia, but part of me has always been drawn back to the Chinese capital and the myriad of cultural and social opportunities that Beijing has to offer. I return with great excitement.

Looking back at my 28-year career in education, I can only now start to fully appreciate the journey that began, in the early days, with teaching in some of the most isolated regions of the world. The first 12 years of my career were spent working with Indigenous Aboriginal students in Northern Australia. These were some of the most challenging times of my life, but also some of the most rewarding. I learnt the value of building strong relationships with people and developing trust and understanding of a culture that is very different from my own. During this time, I refined my skills as a teacher and developed my educational philosophy and beliefs.

Since that time, I have lived and worked in South Africa, England, Indonesia, North Macedonia and, of course, China. I have also travelled to more than 80 countries around the world. For me, travel is an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone, to look at the world from a different angle and to grow richer in experience. I now look forward to exploring how Beijing has changed since the last time I lived there, and I am keen to meet the students and families of House of Knowledge.

Russell O’Neill worked started working as a teacher in 1991 and has served in leadership roles for the past 18 years. His vast curriculum experience spans the International Early Years Curriculum, the International Primary Curriculum, the International Middle Years Curriculum, the US Common Core and International Baccalaureate (IB). Russell has been the keynote presenter at multiple education conferences and received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Western Australia Department of Education. He was nominated twice as Principal of the Year. Russell holds a Bachelor of Education and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education Studies from Murdoch University, Australia.