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The Age of Emergence is the Cardassian coming of age.
Once a Cardassian child reaches the Age of Emergence, they take part in a ceremony at their school and then either take on apprenticeships or (for those of the higher classes or with a obvious talent) are sent to a specialised institute of higher education to gain the skills and qualifications to gain a position in Cardassian society. (DS9 novels: A Stitch in Time, Fearful Symmetry, The Never-Ending Sacrifice)