Merrell Team | April 14, 2020

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What does a refugee look like? Growing up as an immigrant in the United States left Piseth Sam feeling nationless yet, at the same time, she wondered what exactly made her different. Piseth uses climbing and fitness to create her own characterizations of self, and shapes her own definition of American. 


Born in a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, Piseth Sam has grappled with notions of identity, belonging, and subsequent shame from an early age.

“For a long time, I didn’t know where home was. Am I what a refugee looks like?” she asks herself in the film Refuge.


Ultimately, her insecurities about being an LGBTQ+ immigrant become her strength as she leads by example to inspire other women in outdoor spaces often dominated by men.


  • Brand: Merrell
  • Directed by Tim Kemple, A Camp4 Production starring Piseth Sam
  • Cinematography - Cheyne Lempe and Blake Hendrix
  • Editing and Sound Design - Cheyne Lempe
  • Producer - Elizabeth Leilani
  • Assistant Editor – Juliet Ulibarri
  • Assistant Camera – Tara Kerzhner
  • Colorist and Mix – Camp4 Collective

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