Just off the coast of Fiji some 30 meters under the surface of the ocean, Augusto Valverde was absolutely surrounded by sharks.
Bull and gray reef sharks stormed through the water like a vicious tornado, chomping their hundreds of sharp teeth as they gorged on pounds of fish heads, gallons of blood mixing with the salty sea.
It was a horrifying scene, to be sure, but it was one Valverde dove into willingly, because it was essential footage for his travel series, Global Child.
“I faced my fears, so I do feel more courageous,” he says, “ I have an excellent story to tell at a bar, but we also share the truth that sharks really aren’t under attack by humans. The vast majority of them are not here to hurt us. They're a key part of the ecosystem, and we should try to understand them and respect them … [but] we kill more than 100 million sharks per year. That's 11,000 sharks per hour. Sharing these kind of things in the show, it's just like, ‘man, we have to stop doing this to our planet, and our species.’”
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This is the ethos of Global Child, summed up brilliantly in the show’s catch phrase, “travel and purpose.”
Showcasing magnificent destinations across Thailand, Chile, Mauritius and more, Valverde travels continents alongside a changing cast of influencers, celebrities, entertainers and activists to highlight the beautiful landscapes and cultures of our world. Even more so, Global Child shows viewers how much can be learned if you truly open your heart to new people and places, and it challenges travelers to go a step further, finding ways to give back to the communities they visit.
“Impact works like ripples,” Valverde says. “We don't always see its final size based on the initial action. Therefore, when you travel, if you take a moment to do something positive for the place, then it ends up having a ripple effect that—if we all began to do it—really can change the world.”
Valverde wasn’t always a grand world traveler. Heck, he wasn’t even that altruistic of a guy, but every path to wisdom comes with many turns, and his began as a moneyc-chasing club promoter in the nightlife mecca of Miami.
“I was very superficial, living a very Miami life with a lot of dysfunctions and it was very empty,” he says. “I always say that ‘selfish pursuits lead to empty ends,’ and one day I woke up after another party, and I realized that life had to have more purpose than what I was choosing to think it had.”
Despite his debaucherous ways, Valverde has always been a man of faith, so in his darkest hour, he chose to pray. That faith comes into play on the program from time to time, fueling his mission to share a message of togetherness, personal growth and social responsibility.
“I understand that a lot of people that might be reading this don't share the same belief system that I do,” he says, “but I also believe that we have to be truthful to the way in which we experience life, and so for me, I cannot tell my story without mentioning God.”
Valverde is always looking out for the right signs and listening to his inner voice that tells him where to go. His prayers for more purpose were answered in the form of opportunities to star on a variety of television shows, which in turn led him to move to Los Angeles.
For years, he tried his hand at the life of an actor—albeit a struggling one—but his connections eventually led him to volunteer at the LA prison, visiting once a week to speak with men serving life sentences, just to lend an ear, bring the light of spiritual understanding, and listen to their stories as human beings. Pretty soon, it was highlight of his week, and it gave him his first true taste of greater purpose.
“Purpose is an interesting thing, because purpose always comes through progress and it continues throughout your life,” he says. “There's a moment in which you are in your purpose, where you really feel this joy so significant that you would do it not for the money … Money's nice. We all need it, but I've had different ventures in my life prior to that where money was the primary driving factor, and it made me very unhappy. Now I can honestly say that no matter what would happen financially, I would still be doing what I do.”
As he lived his life with the spirit of giving, he found his own cup refilled by opportunities, one of which was winning a nationwide search for a new travel show host on NBC. The experience was another incredible opportunity to see inside the makings of a top-dollar program, and though NBC moved in a different direction after about seven months, Valverde had found his calling.
“I basically set off with a selfie stick, and a friend of mine that works for airlines gifted me these tickets on standby,” he says. “With a little camera and these tickets, even without money, I started traveling the world and started capturing the life lesson that I was discovering in each place.”
One this led to another, and Global Child grew from a small personal project to a real production. It was picked up by 16 airlines as in-flight entertainment, and can now be enjoyed on NBC’s Peacock streaming app, as well as Vizio Watchfree+, Tubi, Roku and 51 linear channels around the world.
The world-class hotels he features on the show include baked-in programs that give back to their homes, like the hotel in Zanzibar that funds its village’s public school and even offers guests a chance to volunteer with those kids for a day.
The experiences and excursions Valverde and his friends enjoy are all vetted for positive ecological and social impact, and often involve raising funds for good causes or taking part in ecological restoration projects.
It’s Valverde’s ardent hope and clearly-stated aim that viewers who enjoy Global Child are inspired to set off on their own purposeful travel experience, making the time to schedule a bit of truly impactful connection during their next trip, be it to an exciting new country or a staycation in their own community.
“I created the name Global Child, because people used to ask me, ‘Where are you from?’ And I would say, ‘Well, my family's from Spain and Mexico, but I was born in Miami and I live in L.A., studied in Canada and Paris,’” he explains. “To summarize, I would say, ‘I’m a global child,’ but then as the show grew, I realized, no matter your race, religion or background, we're all part of the family of humanity. We are all global children, and so you are a global child, too.”
Photography by: Courtesy of Augusto Valverde