WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise visit to the White House on Wednesday was a complete shock to Anastasiia Alieksiienko.

Alieksiienko, a Ukrainian now living in Gaithersburg, Md., who proudly wears her Ukrainian-American lapel pin, couldn’t believe that her home country’s leader left it, something he hadn’t done since Russia started its war with Ukraine 10 months ago.

“This is a very powerful idea and action which he has taken because just yesterday he visited (a city attacked by Russia) which is a town on the front line and he saw soldiers who are there,” Alieksiienko said. “Not every leader would do such a thing.”

Ukrainians living in the DMV have been reacting to Zelenskyy’s visit with shock, awe and admiration for their leader, who gave an impassioned speech to Congress in English.

Sofiia Syzonenko, who lives in Seattle, was visiting D.C. with her friend Rostyslav Yarouyk, who lives in Vermont.

“I was shocked. My dad was shocked. All my family was basically shocked,” Syzonenko said. “My grandma who is in Ukraine was like, what is happening?”

Zelenskyy vowed not to flee his beloved country after Russian forces attacked in February.

Syzonenko and Yarouyk said Ukraine’s president had to come to the United States in order to show his gratitude to America properly.

“I honestly think that the main reason why he’s visiting is to mainly thank the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress for all of the military and financial help they’ve provided so far,” Yarouyk said. “And as far as I know, it’s also something that has been requested of him by the soldiers he’s visited on the front lines.”

Tamara Woroby, the president of the parish council for St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring, Md. said Ukrainians all across the region are elated about his visit.

“I think it also reflects his incredible leadership, his resilience and his willingness to take chances because he’s such a big target for the Russians and he’s willing to come to the U.S., to leave Ukraine,” Woroby said. “So I’m just one more time in awe of him.”

The visit is not one Alieksiienko soon will forget.

“He’s courageous. He’s a great leader,” she said. “He is a leader who unites people.”