Shirley kicks off her move to America by starting school at the local P.S. (public school) 8. It's pretty awkward for her since she can't understand English.
Based on her age (she's ten), she'll enter fifth grade, even though she only did three years of school in China. Her mom says she has to put on a happy face because she's representing all of China, though. So, you know, no pressure.
It's hard to read facial expressions for Shirley, who doesn't understand what winking is, and she keeps blinking over and over again.
In her new classroom, Shirley meets her classmates, all of whom look different from one another. Although she can't understand her new teacher, Mrs. Rappaport, Shirley likes her.
Not sure what to do come lunchtime, she follows everyone to a local deli, where she gets good grub and, even though she's not sure what's going on, loves being part of the group.
After lunch, Shirley's afraid that her trip out will be frowned upon and she will shame China.
As it turns out, everything is fine—except her teacher gives her mom a note about Shirley's constant winking.