This 'Empire' actor has a unique way of connecting with people when she travels.
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Barilla

When we visit a new place, we all have our own way of learning about the people we meet.

Maybe we read up on the culture and history of the country we are visiting or try to learn how to speak a little of their language — even if it involves acting out words we don’t know.

Actor Grace Byers, best known for her role in the television show "Empire," has her own way of getting to know people in a new country.


Image via While the Water Boils/YouTube.

"I come to a country, and I’m like, 'What games do you play? Let me learn. And win,'" she said with a laugh.

That’s because to her, games are about more than just having fun. They’re about finding a great way to connect with other people.

"It’s this time when you get to be vulnerable, where you get to be open, where you really get to connect to other people and truly be yourself," she told Hannah Hart on the YouTube show "While the Water Boils" while the two played card games and cooked a delicious pasta dish.

Image via While the Water Boils/YouTube.

In fact, Byers loves games so much that she made a game out of who could pick the basil leaves off the stalk the fastest with Hannah while they were cooking pasta. Check out it out in their interview:

Byers' love for games comes directly from her childhood.

"I grew up in the Caribbean," she said, and while her childhood might sound idyllic with its beaches and fresh fruit, it was also easy to run out of things to do for fun.

"There’s not much to do on the island, really," she said. "You know, you have the movies, you have bowling and stuff like that, but the main thing that we really love to do is play games."

Image via While the Water Boils/YouTube.

Games, especially card games like Spit, became her favorite thing to do with family, friends, and even strangers. Later, she brought that passion for games with her when she moved to America from the Cayman Islands to study acting. And today, she even plays games such as Spades on-set with fellow actors.

Card games also became a way for Byers to find a great work-life balance in her career.

Image via While the Water Boils/YouTube.

"It’s so important to have a balance," she told Hart. "We will work, we will get the job done, but then we don’t really put that same effort into having fun and relaxing."

It’s important to make time for play and the things that you enjoy, no matter what they are — because that is how you keep your passions alive. And for Byers, card games do the trick better than anything else because they allow her to be herself, let down her barriers, and just have fun.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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