One Word: Me & Us, Places in Time

Written by Students of Xavier College & Delany College

This project is the result of collaboration between Catholic Schools, Parramatta Diocese and WestWords. The students involved were all fairly recent arrivals to Australia, coming from a variety of experiences and cultural backgrounds. The focus of the program was to provide opportunities for each student to find their voice and build the confidence to tell the stories of their journeys and new beginnings. Students were encouraged to tell their stories in a format with which they were most comfortable – prose, verse and/or illustration. From a single word worlds and universes are born. So too with these students. One word often provided the spark that released and inspired them to be able to begin to tell their stories, hence the title, One Word: Me & Us, Places in Time


Read the Publication

Meet the tutors!

James Knight

James Knight is a best-selling author who has written thirteen adult non-fiction books and two children’s non-fiction books. He is currently working on the first book in a middle-grade series that uses sporting themes to create cultural awareness and bridge cultural divides.

James is also an award-winning journalist who has worked for organisations including Australian television channels 7, 9, 10, and Fox Sports, radio stations 2GB and 2SM, the Sydney Morning Herald and CNN online. With a Master of Education in Contemporary Literacies, he works extensively in schools, conducting writing and storytelling workshops and presentations. He is currently developing a resource-driven website,, for students and teachers. James has worked with young people from several countries including India, New Zealand, Sweden, and Botswana. He is married to Clare. They have one son, Iggy, and a dog called Roger who has never read a book.

Mathew Lin

Matthew Lin is a graphic designer and illustrator who has over 30 years experience — with the majority of that time in publishing, as well as advertising and promotional design.

Matthew began his career as a MAC operator in a small ad agency in Parramatta. After a year he moved on to be a designer and illustrator for Scholastic, then a senior designer/illustrator at Creata Promotion. He was an Art Director at Horwitz Publications and then Creative Director at Online Media Group. In 2004, Matthew decided it was time to go freelance and since then, hasn’t looked back!

From James Knight

Thank you to WestWords and Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese for inviting me to be part of this extraordinary project. When I was first asked to be involved, I was excited, but I also had some sense of trepidation because a long-term project often comes with the pressure of delivering a final product upon which the success of the project is determined. I’ll get back to that comment a little later.

Storytelling is at the very core of who we are. Stories help us make sense (and not make sense!) of our world, ourselves, and others. Stories connect. They are so very, very human. This belief was the initial stepping stone for this project. I hoped the students would grow to not only explore their writing but develop greater confidence in expressing themselves in ways beyond writing. It could be argued that ‘having a voice’ and ‘being heard’ is more important than ever for our young people.

The project went for seven weeks. Every Friday for two or so hours with each school group. Admittedly, the early weeks were, at times, a little hit-and-miss for me and the students. But nothing was wasted because I too was learning, and I must express my deep gratitude to Kathy Ferrari and Lise Sercombe (Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese), and Sheryl Cootes and Michael Campbell (WestWords) for providing such great feedback and support as the project evolved. In addition, the commitment of the schools’ teaching staff, Sheree Fenech, Amal Nizam, Eleftheria-Ellie Tsahtarlis, Nathaniel Goad, and Daniela Parli made my role so much easier. Thank you all for doing what you did and what you continue to do. It is critically important.

As the project moved on, I developed a greater understanding of each student, and what was important to them. I felt privileged to be in this position. Their works were raw and real. Importantly, as time passed, the students gained confidence in a safe place. Which brings me back to that earlier comment. One of the great successes of this project was the development of each and every student from week-to-week. For example, I certainly wouldn’t have expected one young person to happily sing ‘Come Fly With Me’ to the entire class. Brilliant! And so heart-warming.

In all, I hope the students benefited from the project. Now, addressing you (the students) directly here, please remember to keep ask asking questions, use your senses and emotions. Plus, there is no such thing as bad writing. You are unique and only you can communicate the way you do. Thank you for allowing me into your lives. I learnt from each and everyone of you. I will always treasure the time we spent together.



Listen to the words!

About the Schools

Xavier College is a distinguished co-educational institution with an extensive multicultural student population situated in Llandilo, a western Sydney suburb.

As a college, we strive to develop strong relationships with the local parish of Corpus Christi, ascertaining an excellent connection with the community through the engagement of parents and caregivers. Students are encouraged to contribute positively to the Xavier College community, playing an integral role in building a system of compassion and tolerance, delivering an authentic experience of Christian life who strive for The Greater Good. The College is committed to educational excellence and endeavors to encourage students to seek faith, love, and peace as lifelong learners, constituting the core values of Ready, Respectful, and Safe.

Our current enrolment includes 1164 total students, with 40 language backgrounds other than English, 50 English as a second language students, and 72 First Nations students. The College boasts a variety of teachers who are equipped with the knowledge to enhance the school experience of First Nation students, diverse students, and learners with high support needs in our Kirinari unit. Xavier College provides a high level of education through the belief that well-being is an integral part of learning, based on the understanding that good, healthy relationships are at the heart of education.

Michael Pate

Staff and students from Xavier College had the privilege to work with WestWords through a writing program that constituted 16 students across years 8-10. The diverse allocation of students from different cultural and family backgrounds meant they were able to tell their stories through a creative outlet and have a voice. Through their weekly engagements with author James Knight, students significantly grew in confidence in both their writing and their engagement with peers and staff. Students were able to craft their story using a non-conventional writing style, enabling them to be as expressive and creative as they wished, flourishing from both their experience with this workshop, but also their ability to engage in a rich cultural exchange with their peers. This program highly promoted the importance of maintaining cultural connectedness and a sense of belonging, fostering the ability to sustain a high level of well-being.


Sheree Fenech
Director of Learning Enrichment & Diversity

Delany College is a Catholic co-educational school for students from Year 7 to Year 12, providing contemporary, student-centred education in a nurturing environment. We have 376 students enrolled in Years 7-12. Our junior school, Years 7-9 consists of 189 students and our senior school, Years 10-12 consists of 187 students. Delany is a culturally and linguistically diverse community with 37 home languages spoken. Over 75% of students are developing proficiency in English with a growing number of students who have recently arrived in Australia.

At Delany we take student-centred learning to the next level: our students’ ideas are at the centre of all learning. We know that when a child follows their interests and passions, they are more motivated and engaged in learning. The ‘My Delany Journey’ program, commencing in Year 7, incorporates a mentoring program where students map their interests, passions and strengths to their learning goals. With this approach we aim to transform the lives of our young people so that they can become successful in their adult lives and be dynamic community leaders. Our teachers and other college staff are dedicated professionals who have the best interests of our students at heart.

The college provides a nurturing community for students to pursue excellence in their academic studies, as well as sporting and cultural activities. We aim for all our students to belong, participate and achieve.

Shauna Nash

Students at Delany College greatly benefited from the Westwords initiative.

James Knight helped our students open a door that had been kept closed; a spark was ignited in hopelessness; their voices were beginning to roar. It created a catharsis of emotional angst; a connection or reconnection to a home or two, helping to regain a sense of agency and self-esteem.

Our students benefited by expanding on their language proficiency by crafting stories that involved heavy planning and creativity. By composing these personal tales, it has created a sense of community as they share their stories and experience to those beyond the gates of Delany College.

Amal Nizam
(Acting) Leader of Diversity