In the crushing poverty of rural China, a young woman is ordered to a remote village to be their substitute teacher. Barely older than her students, the shy girl is charged with keeping the class intact for one month or she won't be paid. Faced with overwhelming family debt, her biggest little troublemaker disappears into the city to find work. The stubborn teacher, however, is determined to follow the boy and bring him back to school. Once in the city, her simple peasant pleas fall on deaf ears, and only when the local television station sympathizes does her search bear fruit.